The liberation of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province by the Syrian army and its Russian ally marks another important victory towards ending the eight-year war in Syria.
Last week saw the return to relative normalcy in the northwestern town which had been held under siege by al Qaeda-affiliated militants for over five years. Situated south of Aleppo on the road to the capital Damascus, Khan Sheikhoun was officially declared under the control of Syrian state forces on August 21 after a hard-fought battle against militants.
International journalists from Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Russia witnessed the return of residents and efforts to resume electricity services and reopening of schools. Khan Sheikhoun was ransacked by the routed jihadi terror groups, with the typical depravity that had been seen in other liberated areas. But despite the devastation, residents were relieved to begin the task of restoration of what was previously a town renowned for its culture and beauty before the war erupted in March 2011.
The remnants left behind by the defeated militants as well as the identity of dead fighters testified to their terrorist affiliation. Many of them were foreign mercenaries. Khan Sheikhoun was a stronghold for the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group which was formerly known as Al Nusra Front. Notwithstanding the chameleonic name, they are part of the jihadi Al Qaeda terror network which is internationally proscribed and which Western governments are officially opposed to.
The capture of the town again demonstrates the vile nature of the Syrian war as being one of foreign-sponsored aggression for regime change. In particular, the United States government and its NATO allies, Britain, France, Turkey, and others, are now known to be fully complicit in covert sponsorship of these terrorists.
Khan Sheikhoun is of particular significance because on April 4, 2017, it was dramatically reported by Western news media as being the site of a Sarin chemical weapon attack, allegedly carried out by the Syrian state forces. Three days later, on April 7, the US, Britain and France launched over 100 airstrikes on Syria in what was claimed to be “revenge” against the “Syrian regime” for allegedly committing an atrocity with chemical weapons. Syrian authorities and Russia asserted the alleged Sarin attack at Khan Sheikhoun was a false-flag provocation, fabricated by the militants with the aim of eliciting a military strike on Syria by the US and its NATO allies.
Clearly, after the liberation of the town this month, it is evident that it was a den of terrorist groups which held residents under a reign of terror. Yet for years, the Western news media had proclaimed that these fighters were “rebels” who deserved support from Western intervention. Even as Syrian forces were launching their assault on Idlib Province in recent months, the Western media were animated by shrill reports of “rebels” and civilians being killed by indiscriminate “regime” air strikes.
Tellingly, the momentous victory at Khan Sheikhoun was met with an astonishing silence among Western governments and news media.
The same duplicitous pattern has been seen before when the Syrian army and its Russian ally liberated Douma, Ghouta, Daraa, Aleppo, Maaloula and many other areas besieged by the so-called “rebels” so lionized in Western media. Syrian residents have been invariably relieved and overjoyed to have their freedom and dignity restored by the Syrian army and Russian forces. Their stories of the horror they endured under captivity are shocking from the depravity and cruelty meted out by Western-backed “rebels”.
That is why the liberation of Khan Sheikhoun, as with other locations in Syria, has had to be studiously ignored by the Western news media. Because if they really performed normal journalistic duty what the Western public would learn is that their governments and media have been complicit in huge war crimes against the Syrian nation.
It is all the more despicable therefore that the US is shifting its efforts to block the reconstruction of war-torn Syria. This week, the country is to hold the annual Damascus International Trade Fair. Delegates from some 40 nations are attending and exploring ways to regenerate the Syrian economy and to meet the challenge of reconstruction. Some estimates put minimal repair of infrastructure at a cost of $388 billion. The true figure could be in trillions of dollars.
That bill should be assigned to Washington, London, Paris, Ankara, Riyadh, Doha and Tel Aviv for the criminal aggression they collectively and stealthily inflicted on Syria.
Ahead of the Damascus trade fair, the US was warning prospective foreign investors that they could face sanctions if they did business with Syria. Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the American effort to sabotage Syria’s reconstruction.
As Russian lawmaker Valery Rashkin, who was in Syria this week, put it, the US is trying to destroy Syria through economic warfare after losing its dirty-war military agenda.
The European Union also stands condemned for continuing to impose economic sanctions on Syria. The war is over and it has been exposed as Western-backed criminal aggression. All past accusations against the Syrian state are null and void as malign propaganda. Thus, sanctions on Syria are a contemptible attack on the country by nations whose criminal complicity should actually be a matter of prosecution.
We can only wish the people of Syria well. With international solidarity from Russia, China, Iran and others, Syria will recover its former strength and pride. Syria has won a tremendous victory. The losers are the Western governments and media who have been exposed for the corrupt charlatans they are.