|A member of the Free Syrian Army (The Brigade of the Revolution's Shield) attends a daily training in Sarmada, north of Idlib province (Reuters / Handout)|
Everything you’ve heard about Syria is a lie says Ankhar Kochneva, a Russian journalist who has seen first hand the realities of the Syrian civil war. Kochneva told RT she has proof a Western invasion of Syria will be launched by summer’s end.
RT: While visiting Turkish camps for Syrian refugees, I was told that the Syrian army was shooting at them.
Ankhar Kochneva: There are a large number of videos from those camps showing people walking upright, not ducking down even though you can hear shooting. The options are that either the sound was added to the video later, or that people knew that they were only shooting in the air without any intention of actually hitting them.
The Syrian army has no reason to shoot up these camps, as Syria is doing its utmost to ensure these people return home. And in fact they are doing just that if you go by the official Syrian data; 16,500 people have returned. Meanwhile, Turkey and the Syrian opposition are strongly interested in having those camps. If it weren’t for these camps, who would believe in the regime’s atrocities described by the opposition?
By the way, many of these camp residents had to flee due to the atrocities committed by bandits. For instance, in the city of Jisr ash-Shugur on the border with Turkey, 120 policemen and a large number of peaceful civilians were murdered in a deadly incident last summer.
All Syrians have a large number of family members who live across the entire country in large, spacious houses. When they have troubles at home, they go stay with their relatives rather than in camps in strange countries. The bandits, however, blocked all the roads except for the ones leading to Turkey. People found themselves caught in a trap, just like Israelis shooed Palestinians off their land by building them a ‘corridor’ to Jordan.
RT:Where will refugees resettle within Syria, as only 20 thousand of them went to Turkey and there’re many more of those?
AK: The majority of refugees mainly stay with their relatives or rent apartments. It’s very difficult to find an apartment in Damascus, Tartus or Latakia. For instance, in Homs, the previous school year was disrupted as people had to move to areas where their children could go to school. We see that people run to the government, rather than from the government, for protection. Getting these people to settle is a huge burden for the state treasury as they have to establish new schools, to provide food, healthcare, and so on for hundreds of people. And this is what the government is doing. There are a large number of volunteers who work for free helping people resolve their problems as they get settled.
People are returning to Homs, to areas that have been cleared of bandits. The army guards their homes. I have pictures showing soldiers in one of the streets taking pot flowers out of houses and placing them outside so that they can water them until the locals return home. None of them had any idea that some journalists would show up – we appeared totally out of the blue.
RT: Why do you keep calling people fighting against the Syrian government bandits?
AK: Because I have seen what they do to the kidnapped people. I have been to the torture chambers; I have met mothers who saw their children die. The whole country loathes them as bandits. There is nothing worse than being loathed by your own nation. They killed a mufti’s son, they kill Christian priests, and they kidnap and torture children. A few days ago they killed two elder brothers of a five-year-old boy to take vengeance on him for reciting poems at rallies to support Syria. They massacred the whole family of an MP. I have been to homes turned into bandit hideouts. I have seen empty liquor bottles; how does it square with Islam? I have been to churches destroyed by bandits in Homs. I have been under their fire, with grenades dropping right next to me. I have been targeted by snipers who could perfectly see I am a woman, not a soldier. In the bustling street where I lived, near the marketplace, they blew up a few cars. Why blow up civilians shopping for food?
RT:The opposition and the insurgents have sought to assure me that this is all the doing of criminals released and hired by the Syrian government. The insurgents also claimed it was the Syrian government that staged explosions in public places.
AK: This theory is ridiculous. The government has announced nine amnesties for criminals and opposition activists never implicated in any murders. Yet now the government is blamed for these amnesties! Let me remind you that the bandits would first set court archives on fire with files of criminal cases and smuggling. A few terrorist attacks targeted buildings that stored the intelligence and police archives. For example, on December 23, 2011, suicide bombers set the intelligence archives ablaze before blowing themselves up in a car.
RT:Are the escape of the Syrian pilot to Jordan and the Turkish aircraft incident related?
AK: When the aircraft got hijacked on July 21, I was in Beirut, at the Al Mayadin TV channel which was headed by Ghassan Bin Jiddu, the former chief of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Libya. He was the one who caused a scandal by quitting the channel due to lies that the channel had been broadcasting for the last year and a half. On that day, this channel was the first to report the jet hijacking in Jordan. The first question was, how quickly Jordan would return the plane, which it was obliged to do according to the international laws. It wasn’t as much about the aircraft itself, but rather about the friend/foe enciphering system. According to military experts, it takes about a week to decipher it. The fact that the aircraft wasn’t returned immediately gives a reason to doubt Jordan’s neutrality. There are reasons to suggest that the incident was thoroughly staged. On 23rd June, a Turkish reconnaissance aircraft flying at an extremely low altitude intruded into Syria. Some experts believe that by then, Jordan could’ve deciphered the codes, and that Turkey made an attempt to use them.
RT:Turkey denies its plane was flying over Syrian territory. What do they say in Syria?
AK: The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 1,000 meters. It deliberately performed several circles over neutral waters and land. It was then shot down with a weapon of a range not exceeding 3,000 meters. A machine gun was used, rather than a missile launcher, as the world’s media insist. Immediately Syria proposed establishing a bilateral commission for investigating this incident. But Turkey refused doing it. And now, the latter has been declaring that it was Syria that didn’t want to do it. It gets even funnier than that: Turkey says that it will not let Syrian provocations go unanswered. They are bringing a large number of armored vehicles to their border, even though provocations, arms smuggling and militants infiltration are happening on the part of Turkey, with the consent of the Turkish government.
RT:Reports say that Burhan Ghalioun, a Syrian opposition leader, has sneaked into Syria and there are already areas in Latakia and Homs beyond the control of Damascus.
AK: The Benghazi scenario is impossible in Syria. So in order to justify a possible intervention, they spread sensational yet false information. It is only recently that the media have stopped huffing and puffing over the takeover of an air defense base in Al-Rastan. A video even claimed the missiles would target the presidential palace in Damascus. The next day I was in Homs, which is within a distance of some 10 km from Al-Rastan. When asked about the seized base, the officers joked and treated me to tea, while the province governor was holding a conference to restore the affected regions and provide aid to citizens. If the information on the seized base and weapons were true, they would only be concerned about the air defense base rather than compensations for destroyed homes. This is copybook deception. When you hear that the presidential palace is under fire, you will believe it, because you have already been brainwashed that there are enough weapons to open fire. They used the same method of preemptive lies in January. First they said that hostilities were rife in the center of Damascus when there were none, next they doctored rumors of the president’s allegedly fugitive family.
When it comes to control over territory, please bear in mind that “territory” in Homs amounts to three districts cordoned off by the army. There are indeed up to 10,000 bandits inside, military experts say. The army has stayed out of the districts and refrained from combat operations at the UN’s behest. In Homs, the insurgents have been keeping a living shield of around 2,000 civilians, including women and children. Many need urgent medical aid. Some badly need dialysis; others suffer from diabetes, while more have no disinfectant for their wounds. The UN and the Elders are negotiating their evacuation, but it would be out of synch with the insurgents’ intents. Here is yet another example of how the army is trying to avoid victims; otherwise they would have eliminated this hornet’s nest long ago.
But when the insurgents start provoking the soldiers and barraging the surrounding quarters, the military has to react. The government suggested opening six humanitarian corridors and getting the people out on the Red Cross vehicles, but the insurgents have no intention of releasing them, as they would like to walk out with the civilians. Latakia is under total government control. The forested mountains harbor militant groups who attack towns and leave bombs in the streets, which have recently killed two teenagers.
RT:Is it true that generals, officers and whole army units have changed sides and join the rebels?
AK: This is a lie. All the military I know sneer at these messages. Naturally, they’ve intimidated some people into doing that and paid others. They made other people choose between an officer’s honor and familial honor, but 90 per cent of videos that feature desertion cases show soldiers abducted by bandits. They read a text someone else wrote.
I will never forget a military pilot with his hands bound and two dozen insurgents behind his back. If they bound his hands, it means he fought to the utmost. They kidnap soldiers from their homes; they attack their cars and capture the passengers. Sometimes bandits would stop a regular bus and take the military hostage. First they make the soldiers claim they are deserters, next they torture them, and finally kill and play them off as victims of the army. Kidnapping people is a major business of the so-called revolutionaries. Lately, they have kidnapped 12 Lebanese pilgrims on their way home and two Iranian drivers on the same day.
The opposition claims that the people do not support the government, even though it has to use mercenaries from Iran and Hezbollah. They claim that there are 15,000 soldiers in Syria, but so far the opposition has only been able to show the world a video with five Iranian electricians. They must have killed the sixth one to intimidate the rest. Wait and see when they show us “Iranian mercenaries” and twelve “Hezbollah mercenaries”, they have to make use of the kidnapped people after all! I have seen what they do to the military captives. This is the price they pay for having chosen this job. The military are one of the main targets for attacks. They can be killed for wearing a military uniform. So why flop over to those who can kill for wearing a uniform?
RT: Does Damascus still have the situation under control?
AK: Due to the commitment to suspend fire, the army has slowed down slightly.
But if necessary, all areas can be quickly brought under control again. The bandits “supervise” the places from which the army has been withdrawn upon the order of the United Nations. So, these territories were not occupied by military operations. They can’t and they don’t know how to fight the army. I have information that a military invasion of Western forces into Syria is expected to take place in August-September. But there’s hardly any reason for justifying such invasion. They’ve searched for this reason for the whole year. But they didn’t give any information about the exact deadline. Now it’s done – and we should expect new provocations and new information during the time that is left. If the world believes this, it will empower the aggressor.
RT: What kind of information regarding this decision is there? What is the reaction to it in Syria?
AK: I’m not going to reveal my sources. I have no doubt about their reliability. In Syria there’s no panic or certitude about such an attack. People in Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq didn’t believe in the possibility of such invasion until recently. One of the indirect pieces of evidence regarding the information I have is the widely spread news that Russia and China allegedly agreed to remove Assad. This is as much a lie as all the trash that the media sells to its audience.
RT: Who takes part in pressurizing Syria and how is it done?
AK: Iraq, especially in light of the fact that about 2 million of its citizens live in Syria, supports it, in particular, by helping combat smuggling. Lebanon helps the struggle against smugglers, but Saad Hariri’s Mustaqbal movement is one of the major stakeholders in the anti-Syrian campaign. This person finances the militants, supplies them with weapons and manpower. His media empire leads the information war against Syria. We’ve recently witnessed the turmoil in Beirut. Hariri’s people tried to pull the forces from the border by inciting the riot in the capital as the army almost overtook the smugglers. As for Jordan, its state can’t be envied. On the one hand, the country is much dependent on its relationship with Syria – economically, in food supplies and transit, but, on the other hand, if Jordan isn’t much of a compliant ally of the USA an NATO, the King isn’t likely to save his power during the «Islamic awakening».
Civil war and instability in Syria are very profitable for Israel. Apart from this situation, nobody raises the issue of returning the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. The specific characteristic of Israeli mass media is making up sensational news. As for Qatar, one could speak for ages about this nano-aggressor: they provide weapons and money supplies in an attempt to solve their own internal problems.
Nadezhda Kevorkova, RT