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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 5 - A pro-Tory, Qatar-based arm of the opposition

Wael Aleji, the SNHR’s spokesperson, has not been shy with his views either. On Twitter, Aleji has likened the UK Labour Party of anti-war leftist Jeremy Corbyn to Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party, and praised a vitriolic piece by neoconservative pundit Nick Cohen branding Corbyn as “Hezbollah’s man in London.

Aleji not only endorsed UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to support US airstrikes on Syrian in 2018, he has explicitly identified himself as a member of the UK’s Conservative Party.
While SNHR previously identified its location as England, its office there is currently listed as “dormant.” Little is known about who supports the group — although, again, it acknowledges on its own about page that it is “funded by states.

The organization has openly collaborated with the opposition Syrian National Council’s “embassy” in Doha, Qatar to launch a traveling art exhibition promoting its work around the country. Qatar is the Gulf monarchy that heavily funded Islamist insurgent groups in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the local affiliate of al-Qaeda that rebranded as HTS.

Many of the Syrian exiles on the SNHR’s board of directors are based in Qatar, occupying positions at Doha University and other government institutions.

Another leading figure on the SNHR board, former chairman of the Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun, once courted the West with promises to end Syria’s relationship with Iran and Palestinian resistance forces if it helped install him and his exiled council as the country’s new rulers. 

With figures like Ghalioun on the SNHR’s board, it should be hard to dispute that the organization acts as a de facto arm of the Syrian opposition. And yet reporters like the New York Times’ Anne Barnard have overlooked these inconvenient facts to describe the group as “independent.”

The SNHR did not respond to an interview request from The Grayzone.

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