The Syrian conflict continues to provide an uncomfortable window into the minds of the Western establishment, as mainstream media eulogize a dead ‘moderate rebel’ commander despite evidence of his support for Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Abdel Baset Sarout, 27, was wounded last week fighting Syrian government forces, and died on Saturday at a hospital in Turkey. Sarout was quickly eulogized in Western press, with an AP profile highlighting his skills as a junior soccer goalie and calling him the “singer of the revolution,” while downplaying his ties to terrorists.
Sarout “became an icon of the rebellion against President Bashar Assad,” wrote Sarah el Deeb for AP, rehashing the myth of how the Syrian conflict began as “peaceful protests.” She paints a flattering portrait of Sarout as a hero of Homs, who “repeatedly denounced rebel infighting and called on Syrians to unite against government forces” and ended up leading a unit named after his hometown after losing his father and brothers in battle.
That story was then picked up far and wide. Left out, however, were some salient details of who exactly Sarout fought and sang for.
After the so-called Free Syrian Army disintegrated in late 2012, Sarout joined Jaysh al-Izza (Army of Glory), an Islamist group that would go on to ally with the Al-Nusra Front (an Al-Qaeda affiliate) and its subsequent rebranded incarnation Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The AP profile says that Sarout denied being a member of any radical groups in a 2015 video, but “like many rebels, he adopted more religious references in online videos after initially sticking to nationalist themes.”
Yet here is a video from prior to his evacuation from Homs in 2014, in which Sarout argues that Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) “have the same goals as us” and are “working for God.”
Moreover, he vows to fight together with them against “Christians, Shia and apostates,” and adds that his fighters are not “scared of suicide belts and car bombs.”
Lebanese journalist Marwa Osman pointed out that Sarout had pledged allegiance to both Al-Qaeda and IS, even as people seeking to glorify him after his death were leaving out that inconvenient truth.
“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion, and a military commander,” AP quotes Jaysh Al-Izza leader Jamil al-Saleh. “His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”
Which path Sarout chose, Al-Saleh does not bother to explain. It becomes obvious from another video, in which the “songbird of the revolution” (as Salafist cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini called him) leads fellow militants in a song glorifying Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
These, then, are the “moderate rebels” that Turkey has supported and continues to support in Syria, that the US supplied with anti-tank missiles and other weapons under the CIA’s “Timber Sycamore” program, and that AP has chosen to eulogize.
Yet the world is supposed to believe that the never-ending US war – which began in 2001 and set fire to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen so far – is all about fighting Al-Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism.
Nebojsa Malic, RT
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