Behind the Syrian Network for Human Rights: How an opposition front group became Western media’s go-to monitor
Top media outlets turn to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) for figures on deaths and detentions, never noting the group’s seamless connection to Syria’s opposition, the support it receives from states that waged war on the country, or its open lobbying for US military intervention.
by Max Blumenthal
Part 4 - Another chemical “red line” deception?
Not only has the Syrian Network for Human Rights conjured up ridiculously slanted death toll numbers, it recently made suspicious claims of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government in an overt bid to trigger US military intervention.
On March 27, as Syrian forces closed in on the province of Idlib, the home of the rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), SNHR claimed that the Syrian government used a missile launcher to fire “poison gas” at an HTS position in the eastern suburbs of Latakia. The attack “caused breathing difficulty, redness of the eyes and tearing” among the targets, according to SNHR.
The US State Department seemed to echo the suspicious information reported by SNHR to claim without concrete evidence on March 19 that it had received “indications of any new use of chemical weapons by the regime.”
SOHR issued a report of its own, however, that undercut the claims by SNHR and the US. According to SOHR, “the Turkestani [Islamic] party is the source and basis of the news adopted by the United States of America about the shelling by the regime forces using chlorine gas.” The SOHR noted that one Turkestani Islamic Party fighter who claimed to have been attacked by chemical gas had asthma.
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) is comprised largely of Uyghur Muslim militants from China’s Xinjiang region who are allied with HTS in Syria and Al Qaeda on a global level. TIP leadership has called on foreign Muslims to wage jihad in Syria, publishing an online recruitment video in 2018 that celebrated the 9/11 attacks as holy retaliation against a decadent United States awash in homosexuality and sin.
Fadel Abdul Ghani, the chairman of the opposition-linked SNHR, suggested openly in his group’s dubious report of chemical weapons use that his intention was to see the US intervene in support of Islamist extremist militias like HTS and TIP.
“The US president, the French president and the British Prime Minister have threatened the Syrian regime that if chemical weapons are used again, there will be a decisive response,” Abdul Ghani stated. “Syrian society is still waiting for these leaders to fulfill the promises made, and to hold the Syrian regime to account in a serious and effective way.”
Abdul Ghani has openly advocated for US military intervention for years, telling The Atlantic in 2013 that any civilian deaths by American airstrikes were preferable to the preservation of Assad’s rule. “If Assad continues without any intervention, everyday we will keep losing 100 to 120 people,” Abdul Ghany said. “We have no choice. If we don’t try to take out Assad’s missiles and tanks, he will continue using them against civilians.”
In May 2019, SNHR once again made a public call for foreign military intervention, based on dubious claims of a chemical weapons attack.
On May 27, the ostensible monitoring group published a report subtly entitled “The Syrian Regime Uses Chemical Weapons Again in Latakia and the United States, France, Britain and the Civilized Countries of the World Must Fulfill Their Promises.”
The intention of the report was made as explicit as it could be. The subtitle read, “Immediate Intervention Must Be Made Through an International Coalition to Protect Civilians in Syria Like the NATO Intervention in Kosovo.”
SNHR disposed of any pretense of being an impartial observer and clearly invoked NATO’s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, which ultimately balkanized and destroyed the state, as an example that should be repeated in Syria.