American Herald Tribune |STEVEN SAHIOUNIE: David Nott is a British surgeon who has received numerous awards and accolades for his medical volunteerism in East Aleppo, Syria in 2013 and 2014. He was hosted by the Aleppo City Medical Council, which was founded in 2012 by medical professionals committed to the armed revolution in Syria, which sought to overthrow the Syrian government of Pres. Bashar Assad.
The Aleppo City Medical Council served and existed in only one neighborhood in Aleppo: that of occupied East Aleppo. On the Western side of Aleppo lived 1.5 million persons, who were living under the Syrian government, as were the majority of the highly populated areas across Syria. On the Eastern side of Aleppo lived 250,000 civilians, who went to sleep one night, and woke up occupied by armed rebels. The unarmed civilians of East Aleppo didn’t vote to accept occupation by armed militias. In some cases they may have been willing to work with the rebels, but the majority of the civilian population of Aleppo did not want to participate in the revolution. Even though they did not choose war, the war came to their neighborhood, and took away their freedom. No longer were they able to visit relatives, shop, go to University, or visit a doctor in Western Aleppo. They were made prisoners in their own homes and neighborhoods.
The armed opposition, the so called ‘rebels’ of Syria, are the armed militia known as Free Syrian Army. This group began as a US supported armed group, but lacked the man-power to sustain a viable armed opposition to the very large Syrian Arab Army, which prior to the war had ranked as the 16th strongest Army in the world. From the outset in 2011 the FSA began an outreach invitation to Al Qaeda and other Radical terrorist groups, in order to bulk-up the numbers in the armed opposition on the ground, with the hope of providing enough man-power and weapons in order to topple the Syrian government.
Dr. David Nott was seduced by the romantic notion of rebels fighting against a brutal regime. Apparently, he was not aware of the true beginning of the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011.
When Dr. Nott writes about his time in Syria he takes sides, while saving lives in East Aleppo. He was not a neutral humanitarian.
CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour has said “I learned a long, long time ago, when I was covering genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, never to equate victim and aggressor, never to create a false moral or factual equivalence, because then, if you do, particularly in situations like that, you are party and accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences, so I believe in being truthful, not neutral.”
Dr. David Nott does not acknowledge the Doctors in the hospitals in Western Aleppo who were treating patients injured, or dying, from missile attacks on their neighborhoods by the rebels Dr. Nott worked for. He glorifies the position of his rebel friends, while demonizing the Syrian Arab Army, who were defending the lives and property of the unarmed civilians in Western Aleppo. He seems unaware that the ‘regime’ forces are made up of Syrian males over the age of 18 who are able bodied and not enrolled in University. In other words, they are drafted in a compulsory national service during the conflict, and are not from any one particular sect, but are from every Christian and Muslim sect, including atheists. The Syrian Arab Army were Syrian citizens, however the rebels in Eastern Aleppo were from various countries, and included various Radical Islamic terrorist groups, including ISIS, and Dr. Nott acknowledges their presence.
In fact, Dr. Nott was well aware of the presence of ISIS within the area he worked, even to the point of going through ISIS check points. He pretended to be afraid of them, and acknowledged that they had executed other British humanitarians, but this did not prevent him from leaving the area for his own personal safety. His calculated choice to remain in a specific area known to have ISIS presence must only mean that his ‘minders’, the FSA, had made special provisions with ISIS for Dr. Nott’s services. Dr. Nott was ‘off-limits’ to ISIS. In fact, Dr. Nott performed surgery on an ISIS terrorist in Eastern Aleppo. The hospital operating room was not attacked by ISIS, and he was not forced to perform surgery, but rather this was an FSA controlled Hospital which was allied with ISIS, and thus the ISIS injured were received as normal course of duty.
Dr. Nott recalls being taken to a Priest in Western Aleppo by his ‘minders’ in an effort to portray the conflict as non-sectarian. He should have asked his friends, “Where are the Christians and Priests who support the revolution here in Eastern Aleppo?” He doesn’t seem to be aware that the Syrian Christians have been targeted from the outset by the ‘rebels’.
Robin Harris in 2013 wrote: “Many Iraqi refugees left to join the two million indigenous Christians of Syria. They now share their hosts’ lot — persecution by the western-supported, Saudi-financed, Islamist-dominated Syrian rebels. Priests are special targets. This is where a Syrian Catholic priest, Father François Murad, was murdered last month.”
Dr. Nott wrote an impassioned plea concerning the photo-gone-viral of young Omran, bloodied and sitting in the back of an ambulance in Eastern Aleppo. Dr. Nott was not there at the time, but one of his colleagues from the Hospital in Eastern Aleppo contacted him concerning the tragic photo. Based only on the second-hand information coming to him, Dr. Nott was certain this little boy, saved by the famous WHITE HEMETS of Eastern Aleppo, was the victim of the brutal Syrian regime. Dr. Nott wrote: “The picture of Omran epitomises the horror that can be broadcast on our television screens.” “The sticking point is whether Assad stays or goes. He has to go. The refugees who have left the country will not return unless he has gone. There is no alternative.”
Dr. Nott did not ask all the refugees who left Syria if they left because of Pres. Assad, or whether they would be willing to come back to Syria if there was peace, even though Pres. Assad might remain. Yet, Dr. Nott would have you to believe there is no other reason for leaving Syria. In fact, many Syrian refugees left from peaceful areas, like the Syrian coast, which had never had battles or destruction, and which had remained peaceful and stable. Many Syrian refugees would tell you that they left for the chance to have an income, while living in a peaceful place. There are as many reasons to leave Syria as there are refugees: each has their own story. It is untruthful to portray all the Syrian refugees in a blanket statement.
Now that Western Aleppo and Eastern Aleppo are reunited in peace and stability, the true stories pour out from the actual eye witnesses. The father of the little boy Omran has now told the full details to both Syrian and Western journalists. The details given to Dr. Nott by the treating physician in Eastern Aleppo do not ring true. It was Omran’s father who saved the boy from the rubble, and it was the WHITE HELMETS who seized the boy, without medical treatment first, and staged the photo which then went viral. The colleague of Dr. Nott from the Aleppo Medical Council was present, but only gave treatment after the photo was finished. The WHITE HELMETS even offered to pay a bribe to the father, but were refused, and they have since admitted so.
The father of Omran, Mohammed Kheir Daqneesh stated: ““The truth is one thing and they used him in a way that was not truthful and this really bothered me. The armed militia and their media used him in a way that was excessive,” he said.”
Once the rebels and their allies were driven out of Eastern Aleppo, the residents were able to run to freedom in Western Aleppo. Another British citizen was present as the Syrian refugees came pouring in. Rev. Andrew Ashdown is a Church of England priest studying Christian-Muslim relations in Syria. He wrote: “They said that they had been living in fear. They reported that the fighters have been telling everyone that the Syrian Army would kill anyone who fled to the West, but had killed many themselves who tried to leave – men, women and children.”
“The refugees said that the ‘rebels’ told them that only those who support them are “true Muslims”, and that everyone else are ‘infidels’ and deserve to die.”
“Likewise, most had been given no medical treatment. (A doctor who has been working with the refugees for weeks told me last night that in an area recently liberated, a warehouse filled with brand new internationally branded medicines had been discovered.)”
“One old man in a wheelchair who was being given free treatment in the Russian Field Hospital said he had been given no treatment for three years despite asking.”
The British Priest who personally interviewed the actual survivors of 3 years of occupation in Eastern Aleppo is shedding light on the true picture of life in Eastern Aleppo under the occupation of the rebels. Why is the story that Dr. Nott is telling us so very different? Maybe the difference is that Dr. David Nott was not a neutral observer, but was firmly on the side of the rebels. His minders may have carefully kept him away from civilians, and knowing he could not understand Arabic, the language barrier kept Dr. Nott in the dark as to the true picture of life under occupation of the FSA rebels, and their allies like ISIS and Al Qaeda. Dr. Nott was kept constantly busy treating the injured and saving lives.
The Syrian conflict seems to be winding down to an end. Dr. David Nott and other western humanitarians may begin the long and thoughtful process of asking themselves why they backed the rebels and their allies in a bloody and impossible fight. The US-UK-NATO war machine, fueled by western mainstream media sold many seemingly intelligent people on the idea of a Syrian revolution which would be fought for freedom and democracy. Perhaps one day Dr. Nott will come back to Aleppo and meet some actual residents and survivors of Western and Eastern Aleppo. Perhaps then he can understand the role he played in support of the rebels and their political ideology.