Selective Outrage Over Aleppo Bombing

When the U.S. kills civilians while bombing ISIS’s cities in Syria and Iraq, the jihadists are blamed for using “human shields” and the big media is silent, but different rules apply to Russia’s attacks on Al Qaeda in Aleppo, says Steven Chovanec.

By Steven Chovanec

The United States is manipulating humanitarian concern in an effort to protect its proxy militias and its imperial regime-change project in Syria. The mainstream media and intellectual classes are dutifully falling in line, promoting a narrative favoring U.S. military aggression under the cover of “protecting civilians.”

Similar arguments contributed to the invasions of Iraq and Libya, exponentially increasing the massacres, chaos and proliferation of violent extremism within those countries. These “responsibility to protect” or R2P claims are hypocritical, designed to further the interests of conquest and domination and will lead to even more death and destruction in Syria.

 United States Secretary of State John Kerry with Samantha Power, US Permanent Representative to the UN, during the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. 20 September 2016 (UN Photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., during the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session, Sept. 20, 2016 (U.N. Photo)

The United States has no stake in the wellbeing of Syrian civilians, despite the condemnations of Russia’s offensive in Aleppo. This is clearly shown in the fact that the people that the U.S. is supporting are guilty of the same crimes that the U.S. accuses Russia and Syria of: indiscriminate attacks, targeting of civilians, destruction of schoolshospitals, etc.

Furthermore, the offensive in Aleppo is really no different from what the U.S. did in Manbij, a Syrian city northeast of Aleppo where the U.S. is said to have incorporated a “scorched earth policy” while liberating the city from ISIS this year by treating the civilian population “as if they were terrorists or ISIS supporters.”

Arguably the U.S. conduct was even worse, as the U.S. earned the distinction of launching the deadliest single airstrike on civilians out of the entire five-year conflict, massacring at least 73 where no ISIS fighters were present. But the Manbij operation elicited no moral outcry from the media and punditry, since these were deemed “unworthy victims” given that they were our victims and not those of our enemies. The same can be said about the U.S. operations in Kobani and Fallujah, whereby the entire towns were essentially reduced to rubble without any R2P uproar.

Saudi Arabia as well has no concern for Syrian civilians, as it has ruthlessly besieged and bombed Yemen, with the support and help of the United States, for two years without any concern for civilian lives. The Saudi assault has led to a humanitarian crisis arguably even more dire than in Syria, leaving at least 19 million in need of humanitarian assistance; in Syria it is estimated that a total of 18 million are in need of such aid.

Turkey as well is not concerned about civilian casualties, as is evidenced by its conduct towards the Kurdish population, yet the recent quiet by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the fate of Aleppo is indicative of an understanding reached between him with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whereby Turkey establishes a presence in northern Syria and blocks the advance of the Kurds, and in return limits its support to the rebels  in Aleppo.

The real reason the U.S. is decrying the Russian operation is the fact that the U.S.  is staring aghast at the near-term possibility that its proxy insurgency in Aleppo will be defeated.  Not only will this mark the decisive turning point in the war, the rebels all-but being fully overcome and the Syrian government in control of all the populated city centers except Idlib, but others have argued that it could as well mark the end of U.S. hegemony over the entire Middle East in general.  In other words, the U.S. is trying to turn global public opinion against the Russian effort in an attempt to halt the advance and protect U.S. rebel proxies trapped in Aleppo.

The Rebels of Aleppo

So, who are these rebels? In short, they are an array of U.S.-supported groups in alliance with and dominated by Al Qaeda.  During the past ceasefire agreement these rebels refused to break ties with Al Qaeda and instead reasserted a commitment to their alliances with the group.  The United Nation’s special envoy for Syria recently explained that over half of the fighters in eastern Aleppo are al-Nusra (Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate which has recently gone through a cosmetic name change), while according to the U.S. Department of Defense, it is “primarily Nusra who holds Aleppo.”

War damage in the once-thriving Syrian city of Aleppo.

War damage in the once-thriving Syrian city of Aleppo.

Expert analysis concurs, as Fabrice Balanche of the Washington Institute details how these rebel alliances indicate “that the al-Nusra Front dominates more different rebel factions, including those considered ‘moderate.’” He explains that Al Qaeda’s “grip on East Aleppo has only increased since the spring of 2016.”

It is these fighters, Al Qaeda and its allies, that the U.S. is trying to protect from the Russians, as well other U.S. intelligence assets that are likely embedded with the jihadists.  The narrative that Russia is committing a humanitarian catastrophe is intended to hide this fact, as well as to shift the blame for the suffering in Aleppo off of the U.S.’ shoulders.  Yet it was the U.S. support to the rebels that is primarily responsible for the suffering.

To illustrate this, the people of eastern Aleppo never supported the rebels nor welcomed them.  The rebels nonetheless “brought the revolution to them” and conquered the people against their will all the same. Of the few reporters who actually went to the city, they describe how Aleppo has been overrun by violent militants through a wave of repression, and that the people only “saw glimmers of hope” as the Syrian army was driving the rebels from the area.

The people decried this “malicious revolution” and characterized the rebels’ rule as a “scourge of terrorism.”  This, of course, was of no concern to the U.S. at the time, which now proclaims itself to be the “protectors” of the civilians in Aleppo.

Around 200,000-600,000 of Aleppo’s original population fled and relocated in the government-held western part of the city.  Of the civilians who remain, they are primarily the families of the fighters, who themselves are paid to stay and fight.  The official numbers for those remaining are 200,000, yet the actual number is likely much lower, around 40,000-50,000.

Nonetheless, the remaining civilians who are trapped within this warzone were prevented from leaving. During the first ceasefire, humanitarian corridors were opened and the civilians were encouraged by the Syrian army to leave, yet the rebels stopped them, with reports saying the rebels went so far as to shoot at those who tried. The attempt to evacuate the civilians was condemned by the U.S., which argued that the innocent people “should be able to stay in their homes.”

Human Shields 

The radical groups were using the civilian population as human shields in order to protect themselves, and the U.S. was supporting this tactic. Further corroborating this is special U.N. envoy Steffan de Mistura, who cited reports indicating that the rebels have been utilizing “intentional placement of firing positions close to social infrastructure, aside and inside civilian quarters.”

Map of Syria

Map of Syria

This is because it has always been the policy of the Syrian government to separate civilians from insurgents, as it is simply much more militarily effective to fight against an enemy that is not ensconced within a civilian population.  Likewise, it has always been U.S. and rebel policy to prevent this separation.

According to a knowledgeable individual with contacts with high-level Syrian officials, the U.S. and European Union always rejected the Syrian governments proposals to separate civilians from the fighters, as they explained, “because doing so will be helping you win.”

This makes sense, given that if all of the civilians from eastern Aleppo were evacuated there would then be nothing stopping the Syrian army from crushing the remaining fighters, and there as well would be no international outcry over them doing so. The source explains that “Syria’s war is an urban war theater. [The] only way for insurgents to compete is to use residential areas to hide and operate out of.  This is in direct contrast to [the] Syrian army who would like to fight a theater totally void of civilians.”

Those claiming to be the protecting Aleppo’s civilians from the Russian and Syrian onslaught are in actuality using them as a means to protect the rebels’ success on the battlefield. Given this, the strategy of the Syrian government has been to bomb sporadically in order to scare the civilians and force them to flee from areas controlled by the militants. This is also why the Syrian army just recently halted its advance in order to allow civilians to evacuate; the army wanted the civilians out of the picture so they could militarily defeat the rebels more quickly and easily.

If one actually were concerned about saving the civilians in eastern Aleppo, it is pretty straightforward that one would try to evacuate the civilians from the area and that the backers of the rebel groups would put pressure on them to allow this to happen. From there it would follow that all sides abide by the U.N. Security Council resolutions of which they agreed to, which call for the suppression of financing, arming and supporting Al Qaeda, for the suppression of Al Qaeda “and all other entities associated” with the terror group, and “to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria,” of which Aleppo is one of the largest.

Unfortunately, it is only Syria and Russia that are following through on these commitments, while the U.S. and its allies are consciously blocking the effort. Western media and intellectual opinion are falling in line, took obscuring from the narrative all of these inconvenient truths that do not support the interests of the policy planners in Washington.

In this way, the major media is shown to be completely subservient to state power, drumming up support for another aggressive war based on falsities and half-truths in the exact same way that led to the continuing catastrophes in Libya and Iraq. When the U.S. was driving ISIS from Manbij, just as Syria is now driving Al Qaeda from Aleppo, killing hundreds of civilians at a time, there was not so much as a debate about it, much less an international outcry.

Yet now there are countless voices calling out to “save” Syrians by having the U.S. and its military allies bomb the Syrian military and provide more – and more sophisticated – weapons to the rebels, ironically using “humanitarian” concerns to implement a policy that would likely lead to even more death and misery.

The rebels are dominated by jihadi extremists, and any further support to them will further strengthen the radicals engaged in a project of ethnic cleansing, conquest and reactionary theocratic governance. Bombing the Syrian army and air force would only help to further descend Syria into more chaos and more bloodshed, just as the same policies did in Iraq and Libya.

The Syrian conflict is an international proxy war and humanitarian concerns are being manipulated unscrupulously in support of interests having nothing to do with concern for innocent lives.

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst and writer based in Chicago, IL.  He has a bachelors in International Relations and Sociology at Roosevelt University and conducts independent, open-source research into geopolitics and social issues.  His writings can be found at, find him on Twitter @stevechovanec. [This article was originally posted at]

26 comments for “Selective Outrage Over Aleppo Bombing

  1. bozhidar balkas
    October 12, 2016 at 10:24

    Heaven=purest form of communism. Russia on the road to heavenly heaven and China on the road to an earthly heaven and not ever on the road to heavenly heaven [where zero happens, according to priests].
    Merica, at least thus far, on the road to an earthly hell for many voelker and heavenly heaven at the same time.

    So, if Russia and America are on the road to same vast emptiness, why then all this demonization, fears/etc?

    Since i am a communist of the earthly heaven and not of the heavenly heaven variety, maybe i should be glad Americans want to harm Russians????

  2. Abe
    October 10, 2016 at 10:17

    “And as the US-Russian brokered ceasefire collapses, Russia has cited the United States’ inability and unwillingness to clearly delineate between what Washington alleges are “moderate rebels” and designated terrorist organizations the US itself admits are operating alongside militants they are backing.

    “[…] even as the US feigns urgent concern for what it attempts to portray as an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, it is itself guilty of intentionally engineering the entire conflict in the first place – knowing precisely the nature and degree of barbarity that would unfold and the extent to which it would reach. By attempting to shield its terrorist proxies remaining in Aleppo and throughout the rest of Syria, it is attempting to prolong, not end the humanitarian crisis, and tip Syria further toward what would be a catastrophic collapse making Libya’s recent US-induced division and destruction pale in comparison.

    “US spokespeople, before their various podiums and amid their various press conferences, are struggling to explain what the United States is doing in Syria and toward what end besides repeating the devastating destruction that it has unleashed in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They struggle not because the ‘truth’ is difficult to convey to the public, but because the truth is difficult to deny any further.”

    The Real Reason the US Can’t Separate Moderates from Al Qaeda in Syria
    By Tony Cartalucci

    • October 10, 2016 at 19:20

      Great piece, Cartalucci is excellent

  3. October 10, 2016 at 08:53

    Since when in the last fifty years has the US government done the right thing or told the truth about anything? The US government’s plan is to completly destabalize the region.

  4. Exiled off mainstreet
    October 9, 2016 at 20:13

    What is being proposed by the yankee establishment could lead to nuclear war on behalf of the same element they have supposedly been combating in their “global war on terror”. Treason is thus to be the cause of this climactic war. The system appears bent on self-destruction, and those who lend support to it are complicit both in treason and their own deaths. I never thought things would sink this low.

    • Steve
      October 10, 2016 at 14:36

      As the Empire of Chaos continues to pile up the corpses
      Hubris demands justice — life out of balance
      requires correction
      The Goddess Nemesis is dangerously close to exacting retribution
      We are teetering on the precipice

  5. John
    October 9, 2016 at 19:48

    American citizens can’t be bothered right now…..get back with you later….now that’s a joke

  6. F. G. Sanford
    October 9, 2016 at 16:15
    Meat Loaf: Two out of Three Ain’t Bad

    You neocons can talk all night- But that ain’t gettin you nowhere.
    Putin gave you every chance he possibly could, But now he’s movin’ in the hardware.

    Samantha, she can cry all night- But that’ll never save the Al Nusra Front.
    The bodies in Aleppo are a terrible sight, But that’s the goin’ price for her regime changin’ stunt

    You poured in weapons and spent plenty of cash. You got the Saudis and the Turks to help out. You rounded up the dregs of all the head choppin’ trash, You neocons thought victory was never in doubt, Now you’re losing so you’re shoutin’ “war crime”!

    And all Putin does – is keep on telling you- Iraq fell, And Libya, But there ain’t no way Assad is going anywhere. Now don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three ain’t bad. Now don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three ain’t bad.

    You got Iraqi oil and the Libyan gold, You thought that they would prop up your stocks- You got the Afghan poppy fields because you’re greedy and bold, But there ain’t no pipeline annex hidin’ at the bottom Of a Cracker Jack box

    You all lie, you claim R2P is something it’s not. No matter how you try- You’ll never be able to make it look right, You’ve given it your very best shot!

    Well there’s only one thing that you neocons want, And that monopoly is out of your reach. You can get atomic war or ask for peaceful detente, But another R2P is something that you just can’t preach.

    We remember Putin’s offer to help clean up the mess, But you neocons stabbed him in the back. The war on terror could have been a smashing success, But you turned and launched a sneaky attack-

    And he kept on telling you, He kept on telling you, He kept on telling you:
    Iraq fell, And Libya, But there ain’t no way Assad is going anywhere. Now don’t be sad, ‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.

    Iraq fell, And Libya, But there ain’t no way Assad is going anywhere. Now don’t be sad,’cause two out of three ain’t bad, Now don’t be sad,’cause two out of three ain’t bad.

    Well the neocons can talk all night- But that ain’t gettin them nowhere.

    • backwardsevolution
      October 10, 2016 at 00:54

      F. G. Sanford – well done!

  7. Praguois
    October 9, 2016 at 15:32

    Dear Steven, thank you for an interesting analysis. Greeting to the Czech community of Chicago, IL and their descendants from Prague, Czech Republic.

    • October 10, 2016 at 19:16

      Thank you as well for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed and got something out of it, greetings to you as well, there definitely is a great Czech community here in Chicago

  8. Eddie
    October 9, 2016 at 11:43

    In his excellent book “The Real Terror Network”, Edward Herman makes the important distinction between what he terms ‘wholesale’ terrorism (as practiced by governments, where the numbers of victims are huge–> staggering…10,000s into the 10,000,000s) vs ‘retail’ terrorism (small groups or individuals, where — try as they might — the numbers of victims are insignificant by comparison (10s,100s, or maybe 1000s if they’re ‘lucky’). Thus the US can for instance kill 1-3 MILLION Vietnamese in the 1960’s/70’s, and it’s ‘unfortunate, but necessary’ to the US MSM, but let a small group of terrorists in the US (even during that era) kill just 1 person even semi-accidentally (i.e.; the Madison, WI Army Math Research bldg bombing, for instance) and the MSM feigns shock and outrage.

  9. Zachary Smith
    October 9, 2016 at 01:28

    I’ve been reading up on Fallujah, and in my opinion that event leaves the US no slack in complaining about the war crimes of other people.

    And not all of the claims made by the neocons are at all true. The latest is one Kerry made about the evil Assad regime attacking a hospital. Problem is, either he made the story up out of thin air, or the False Flag he expected didn’t happen on schedule.

  10. Joe Tedesky
    October 8, 2016 at 22:40

    Starting Friday evening, and all through Saturday all the American news media is talking about is …wait for it, Trump. This time Trump is in the media lime light, because a few years ago he, and Billy Bush were talking some stupid crap about kissing and grabbing women. I think the Donald was trying to impress Billy with his celebrity status, and what women will, or won’t do to be near his celebrated ass. Yes, that’s our American news of 2016.

    If we had a media who was reporting the news in a responsible way, we Americans would be protesting with pitchforks in hand knowing we are now supporting the very people who they say did 911. None of this would make sense, if only the public were better informed. Think of this, we have a presidential candidate who when asked about Aleppo didn’t know what Aleppo was. Okay, maybe he had a brain freeze, but I kind of doubt it. What caught Gary Johnson off guard was just the question. Questions are suppose to be about Trump, or in Johnsons case the question should have been about weed. In other words this election campaign isn’t about people dieing somewhere in the Middle East, as much as it’s about name calling, and who is doing a better job at character assassination.

    If on September 11th 2001 anyone would have told me how someday the U.S. will use it’s Air Force to support Al Qaeda fighters, I would have thought them to be seriously beyond being nuts. I really don’t think that the majority of Americans get it, and they don’t get it because they are to attached to the propaganda machine, and they don’t even know it. I cannot see any of this working out for the good, when people are so misinformed. Besides taking the money out of politics, we need to take the money out of news reporting. Good luck with that!

    • Bart in Virginia
      October 9, 2016 at 18:44

      Given the amount of pearls currently needed for clutching by the MSM pundits, oysters on both our coasts are fleeing to deeper water.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 10, 2016 at 09:38

        For gods sake, save the oysters and sink the pundits to the deep blue sea instead.

  11. backwardsevolution
    October 8, 2016 at 20:55

    “Syria’s war is an urban war theater. [The] only way for insurgents to compete is to use residential areas to hide and operate out of. This is in direct contrast to [the] Syrian army who would like to fight a theater totally void of civilians.”

    Sums it up beautifully. Excellent report.

    • October 10, 2016 at 19:31

      Thank you, I thought that summed it up excellently as well, it was written by @EHSANI22 on Twitter, who is an excellent Syrian analyst who used to live in Syria and now moved to the US, who regularly writes and comments about the war, I highly recommend him as a great source of information on these topics:

  12. backwardsevolution
    October 8, 2016 at 20:47

    “Western media and intellectual opinion are falling in line….. the major media is shown to be completely subservient to state power, drumming up support for another aggressive war based on falsities and half-truths in the exact same way that led to the continuing catastrophes in Libya and Iraq.”

    I don’t know about you, but if I had to stand there and outright lie, tell half-truths, leave out or twist information, I don’t think I could. It tells you something about newscasters and journalists employed by the major media outlets.

    “Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

    It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

    He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

    Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.”

    How do these guys sleep at night?

    • Bill Bodden
      October 8, 2016 at 21:35

      I don’t know about you, but if I had to stand there and outright lie, tell half-truths, leave out or twist information, I don’t think I could. It tells you something about newscasters and journalists employed by the major media outlets.

      A so-called titan of Wall Street said several years ago that morality was not a factor in business decisions. The same standard applies to countless people working for corporations. Their primary concern is their paycheck.

      • CFM
        October 9, 2016 at 19:48

        Money talks and Americans are weak.

    • Joe B
      October 9, 2016 at 18:17

      Actually the lot of them are trained at journalism schools now supported by the right wing with the intent of selecting and training propaganda warfare specialists. Then they are selected for zionist oligarchy sympathies, which they well know their career depends upon. Any rebels among them would never be hired. So they sleep very well, as they are doing what they always wanted to do.

    • October 10, 2016 at 19:22

      I agree, and I think Hersh is completely right about what constitutes a great journalist, him and Robert Parry are invaluable resources in this climate of pure journalistic complicity with state and corporate crimes

  13. Bill Bodden
    October 8, 2016 at 18:59

    So, what else is new? Americans have been talking out of both sides of their mouths since the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. So, too, did their ancestors from mostly European nations. Hypocrisy is now at fever pitch in the US triggered by the crude, vulgar and demeaning commentary from the loose cannon running to be the next president of the United States. Among the most offended are some of our leading warmongers and supporters of Israeli massacres – including Trump’s rival to move into the White House and her supporters.

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