The White Helmets and Other British Propaganda Units in Syria

As of today, April 19, there are highly conflicting reports over what, if anything, happened on the ground in Douma, Syria, on April 7. The initial reports on  a chemical attack by the Syrian government forces were exclusively provided by the White Helmets, a network inside Syria  promoting various rebel groups and pushing the West to intervene to bring down the Assad government. On that unreliable basis, the U.S., the U.K. and France decided to launch missile attacks against Syria on April 14, just one day before the inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were scheduled to arrive to carry out inspections.

Since then, it has been reported by various sources who visited Douma that no chemical attack had taken place, but that the patients in the hospital shown in the White Helmets video were injured as a result of shellings that had occurred.

Clearly, a closer look at the White Helmets organization, which has been caught many times staging phony video scenes with actors in order to demonize the Assad government, is needed. The so-called “humanitarian volunteers” are actually part of a British government-created and -run propaganda apparatus, coordinated through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Office of the Prime Minister.

According to government websites and a series of investigative reports, former British Army officer James Le Mesurier founded the group in March 2013 and then launched another British front operation, Mayday Rescue, the following November 2014. Headquartered in Istanbul and having offices in the UK and Jordan, Mayday Rescue touts an annual budget of $35 million, to conduct propaganda operations in support of the rebel groups seeking to overthrow the Bashar Assad government in Damascus.

It is financed by USAID and by the UK Conflict Security and Stabilization Fund. Through training camps in Turkey and Jordan, Mayday Rescue has recruited and trained an estimated 3,000 Syrians, who are deployed in 120 locations — all in rebel-held territories, including territories held by the Nsra Front and the Islamic State.

Mayday Rescue/White Helmets works closely with the Aleppo Media Center, another British-run propaganda outlet, and with Incostrat (Innovative Communications and Strategy LLC), a media and communications firm, also founded in Nov. 2014, by Paul Tilley, another veteran of British military intelligence. Tilley was the former director of Strategic Communications for the British MOD for the Middle East and North Africa. During the Libya war, he ran UK government communications, operating out of 10 Downing Street. In Jan. 2017, Tilley launched a successor company, Innovation and Insight (iN2).

The Syrian American Medical Society, which claims to operates hospitals in jihadi-held areas of Syria, has also been cited in media reports on the events in Douma. According to investigator Max Blumenthal, the SAMS is funded almost entirely by USAID, an agency of the State Department. The organization’s budget, according to its own statements, jumped from $672,987 in 2013 to nearly $6 mn in 2015.

Further reading: Will President Trump Fall for British Hoaxes on Chemical Weapons?