by Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post:
For six years and ever since the alleged “chemical weapons attack” in Ghouta, Syria in 2013, the Western corporate press has stuck with the easily disproven claim that the Syrian government “gassed” its own people. That lie has been repeatedly debunked by researchers in the alternative media but that hasn’t altered the onslaught of propaganda coming from mainstream “journalists.”
Now, however, one of their own, a mainstream Belgian reporter who was captured by the West’s Free Syrian Army terrorists, has begun blowing the lid off the lies that the Syrian government committed the “chemical attack.”
The reporter, Pierre Piccinin da Prata, recently gave an interview with Belgian RTL, where he told of a conversation he heard between rebels that exonerated President Bashar al-Assad and stated clearly that “It wasn’t the government of Bashar al-Assad that used Sarin gas or any other gas in Ghouta.” As a result, the majority of his scheduled interviews with mainstream outlets were cancelled.
Piccinin was a war reporter and Editor-In-Chief of The Maghreb and Orient Courier and was held hostage by the Syrian “rebels” alongside Italian war reporter Domenico Quirico for five long months. He is now exposing the propaganda peddled by his colleagues and calling on them to correct what they have got so wrong about Syria since 2011.
The text of a recent interview between Piccinin and Syria Times is included below:
ST: Why and how were you taken hostage by the Farouk Brigade as you had been a fierce supporter of the so-called ‘Syrian Arab Army’?
Piccinin: I was kidnapped by al-Farouk Islamists in April 2013, in al-Qouseir, in the governorate of Homs.
I was doing an ’embedded’ report at the time, with the ‘rebels’ of the Free Syrian Army (FSA – when they still existed, before disappearing when the rebellion was completely Islamized).
At that time already (April 2013), the ‘non-Islamist’ rebels realized that they had lost the game. Many were returning home or fleeing to Lebanon or Turkey. Some joined the different Islamist groups. Jabhet al-Nusra, especially (al-Qaeda in Syria). But some groups of the FSA continued to occupy the land they still controlled. But they no longer fought the Syrian army: they behaved like bandits; they ransacked the population, under the pretext of taking money for the war effort. And some FSA chiefs started to kidnap people, to enrich themselves personally. That’s what happened to me: the commander of the katiba of the FSA I was with sold me at al-Farouk for a few hundred dollars.
ST: What is the lesson you have learned from the five months in captivity?
Piccinin: As a war reporter and specialist of Syria, and Islamist circles, this experience (although it was very painful nervously and physically) taught me a lot about the evolution of the conflict and also about the realities and internal functioning of these Islamist groups. On their behavior, their convictions, their vision of the world…
I have not been locked up for five months. I was moved very regularly as the conflict evolved. At this time, the fighting followed one another: the front lines moved a lot. In particular, I experienced the siege and the fall of al-Qouseir. The city was taken over by the Syrian government in early June 2013.
So I was able to observe what was happening, constantly moved between Damascus and Aleppo. And I was not attached, nor blinded. I could even talk to the fighters who held me, regularly and also to the people I met. I was very guarded, sometimes locked up, but very often free to communicate, with the Islamists and with the people who gravitated around them. I took my meals with them. We often slept in the same room. I was even present when they prayed or during their military meetings.
I hoped that someone (among the people I meet) would react and help me to free myself. But the Islamists terrorized the population. People were very afraid of Ammar al-Buqai, the al-Farouk chief, who held me. And nobody dared to defend me. One day (it was in Yabroud, near the Lebanese border), a man told me: “They (the Islamists) are a real problem for us. It’s dangerous to contradict them. They are very dangerous. We must pretend to obey them.”
It was a very hard and painful human experience (for my family, my parents in particular, they are old). But, professionally, I dare to say that it was a great enrichment.
On the human side, moral, I also learned a lot. I have seen what level of cruelty, violence, malice and cynicism the human being can reach…
ST: You have stated that it is not the Syrian government that used Sarin gas or any other gas in Ghouta. Have you tried to give your testimony to international investigation committee about the use of chemical weapons in Syria? And Why?
Piccinin : At the end of this period of detention (it was at the end of August 2013), the jihadists who held me spoke only about this: the events of Ghouta.
And, at that moment, I was transferred to a large building (it was in Bab al-Hawa, near the Turkish border). This building served as a common headquarters for al-Farouk and the Free Syrian Army. It was in this place that we caught a conversation that allowed us to know that, most likely, the gases were used in Ghouta by an Islamist group, to provoke a reaction from the United States of America (I say “we”, because I was kidnapped with an Italian journalist, who sometimes accompanied me to Syria, and we were detained together).
Obama had promised that he would attack Syria if the government used gas. And it was a time when the rebels were losing the war. Everywhere! So… I guess if the rebels did that, it was to try to drag the United States into the conflict, hoping to reverse the military situation.
The Syrian government had no interest in using the gas. Strategically, it was useless; and that could only ruin his image on the international level, with the risk of an American attack.
My testimony was published by some media and I developed this question in several conferences.
But, no … Never the UN institutions have asked me to testify.
It must also be said that very few European media have published this testimony…
To tell you the truth, when I came back to Europe, I was contacted by dozens of media outlets, who wanted to interview me, and a lot of Belgian and French media of course. But when I gave the first interviews on Belgian radio in the morning, the day of my come back … I obviously talked about this issue of gas in Ghouta … Just after, the phone immediately began to ring: the media that had programmed my intervention in their broadcasts (radio and television) called me to tell me that the interview was no longer possible … For various absurd pretexts … The interviews were cancelled! Indeed, all Western media had accused the government of Bashar al-Assad of using the gas and had claimed that he was guilty. And a reporter who has been on the ground for five months was coming to testify to the contrary … That did not suit them …