After battlefield pauses, failed ceasefires and the shelling by jihadists of Shia militia fighters leaving by bus per agreement, independent western reporters have made their way to east Aleppo to report on the situation. Swedish journalist and peace advocate, Jan Oberg, filed the following on-the-ground report on December 15th:
Western media tell you about regime killings and mass murder, only bad things about the Syrian regime. But I saw another side today:
Syrian Arab Army soldiers participate in the humanitarian work at the Jibrin Reception Center in Aleppo that receives people from Eastern Aleppo. All with whom I talked today expressed their joy over their freedom from the four-year siege and for the assistance the government, army and also university student volunteers provide them – as many as 90,000 to 100,000 people.
I was free to talk with and photograph anyone I chose and I was there without any security, police or other protection. Kind and professional officials who thanked me for being in Aleppo exactly now and bringing their stories out. Not one declined to be photographed, many asked me to.
More from Oberg can be read here
British journalist, Vanessa Beeley, who has reported numerous times from all over Syria, shared the following report from Aleppo on December 12th:
On the morning of the 12th December we headed for Sheikh Saeed in East Aleppo. This area had been the scene of very fierce fighting between the Syrian Arab Army and their allies, particularly Hezbollah and the terrorist factions that have brutally occupied East Aleppo for the last four years. Terrorist factions such as Nusra Front [Al Qaeda], Nour al Din Zinki [child beheaders] Ahrar Al Sham [ethnic cleansers of all minorities in areas they occupy] and other lesser militants, all funded and armed by NATO and Gulf states and focused upon wholesale destruction of Syrian infrastructure and the abuse, imprisonment & massacre of the Syrian people.
The whole area had only been fully liberated the day before. There was still a large degree of tension on the ground and Syrian and Russian jets were still flying overhead, gunshot and mortar fire can be heard in the video. The destruction was shocking.
We were taken up on to a rooftop for the Syrian military press briefing. While the commander was talking to the press, a young Syrian Army soldier came to speak to me…
Do these young men, fighting for their country, their families and their people, really look as if they are capable of then executing, raping and murdering the people they would give their lives to save from their incarceration under a NATO and Gulf state imposed terrorist regime? [View video, two and a half minutes, at weblink here.]
Veteran middle east journalist for the Independent of London, Patrick Cockburn, has written about the clever (and successful) policy by the jihadists who controlled E. Aleppo of killing and/or intimidating journalists so as to deter them from having a presence in the areas they occupy, thereby creating a vacuum of information that can be filled by those who are either supporters or appeasers of the jihadists:
The foreign media has allowed – through naivety or self-interest – people who could only operate with the permission of al-Qaeda-type groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham to dominate the news agenda.
The precedent set in Aleppo means that participants in any future conflict will have an interest in deterring foreign journalists who might report objectively. By kidnapping and killing them, it is easy to create a vacuum of information that is in great demand and will, in future, be supplied by informants sympathetic to or at the mercy of the very same people (in this case the jihadi rulers of east Aleppo) who have kept out the foreign journalists. Killing or abducting the latter turns out to have been a smart move by the jihadis because it enabled them to establish substantial control of news reaching the outside world. This is bad news for any independent journalist entering their territory and threatening their monopoly of information.
At the center of this controversy is the question of who leaked or hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. The CIA has planted the story in The Washington Post, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets that it was Russia that hacked both the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped the material to WikiLeaks with the goal of assisting the Trump campaign. The suggestion is that Trump is Putin’s “puppet,” just as Hillary Clinton alleged during the third presidential debate.