Weekly media digest

October 20, 2020

SyriaUntold brings you the latest edition of our digest. We want to share with you the news, features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we're reading this week.

30 October 2020

How Syria's disinformation wars destroyed the co-founder of the White Helmets (The Guardian

“As forensic specialists tended to Le Mesurier’s body, more police arrived at Mayday Rescue’s offices, which were located on the floor below the bedsit. Soon the work space was teeming with officials. Upstairs, Winberg was being swabbed by detectives, who were taking her fingerprints and DNA, and treating her as a murder suspect. Across town, at the White Helmets offices, employees were waking to the shocking news of Le Mesurier’s death. So, too, was the internet, where much of the organisation’s work, and that of Le Mesurier, had been contested since its earliest days.” Read more

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Filming the invisible (Newlines Magazine)

“I’d known Father Paolo for almost two decades, and I’d made several films with him. Originally from Rome, he lived in Syria for 30 years and had set up a unique interdenominational Christian community of monks and nuns who focused on interfaith dialogue, particularly between Muslims and Christians. Open for visitors from all walks of life, of any faith and none, the community was a place where people would visit, picnic, talk, and experience a monastic and communal life.

Now, in 2013, in the Monte Carlo Radio studio, he was angry.” Read more

Airstrikes kill or injure dozens of fighters in camp for Turkish-backed rebels in Syria (The Washington Post)

“Airstrikes on a training camp for Turkish-backed rebels in northwestern Syria killed or injured dozens of fighters Monday, according to a rebel spokesman, who estimated that more than 170 people died or were wounded.

The strikes killed 35 fighters from the Sham Legion, a rebel group that falls under the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation, an umbrella organization for rebels in northwestern Syria, a member of the group said. Another 77 were wounded.” Read more

European families stranded in northeastern Syria must be repatriated: Open letter (Middle East Eye)

“Failing to repatriate European children violates their fundamental rights, including the right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to education. This has been reiterated by various regional and international bodies, including the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the European parliament, which has called on European countries to undertake all possible measures to repatriate these children.” Read more

New iPhone 12 on sale in Damascus despite sanctions and bread lines (The National)

“The first retail iPhone 12 in the Middle East may have been bought by a Damascus resident, where the latest Apple product costs about eight years of an average government salary.

Emmatel, a Syrian telecoms company established last year, paraded the pricey phones on October 24 at an event where upmarket Syrian shoppers crowded eagerly in anticipation of getting their hands on the latest technology.” Read more

Pentagon says 2 men killed in Baghdadi raid were combatants but offers little evidence (NPR)

“When President Trump announced the U.S. military raid that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi one year ago on Oct. 27, officials praised the nighttime operation and said civilians were protected.

But in December, NPR reported claims that forces had killed two Syrian civilians and maimed a third during the raid, prompting the military to investigate.

Now U.S. Central Command says it has completed its investigation and cleared its troops of any wrongdoing, classifying the Syrian men they attacked as combatants.

Relatives of the Syrian victims reject the military's assertion.” Read more

On Syria, Biden and Trump are not very different (Asharq Al-Awsat)

“A Biden administration would protect the emerging small state and provide diplomatic support to it and likely will provide a small economic aid program. We can expect the State Department to play a more active role with the autonomous administration, especially pressuring the United Nations to give the PYD and its administration a role in constitution negotiations in Geneva. Damascus, Ankara, Tehran and Moscow all will reject such an American initiative but the Biden team will present no inducements to change their rejection.” Read more

Unpublished OPCW Douma correspondence casts further doubt on claims of ‘doctored’ report (Bellingcat)

“A draft version of a letter seen by Bellingcat and not publicly released by either ‘Alex’, Wikileaks or any of the journalists who have covered the so-called scandal, proves that a chemical attack did occur. It shows that any notion of a cover-up at the OPCW is false and confirms that the organisation acted exactly as it was mandated to.

Further, it also reveals that at a diplomatic level behind closed doors, the Russian and Syrian governments have both agreed with the conclusions of the OPCW report. Yet in public – and with the help of a number of Western journalists and academics – Russia has launched a widespread and concerted effort to undermine both the OPCW and the conclusions of its report on Douma.” Read more

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