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Complaint to ABC: LNL interview with Sophie McNeill

Alternative Voices to Sophie McNeill’s on Syria

Without facts, the Syrian story does not stand a chance in overcoming the enmity and rancor felt by both sides. False narratives, even heartfelt ones, will only keep conflict buzzing

by Sharmine Narwani, 20 Dec 2011

Terra Nullius and Syria

The belief of British colonial powers that the continent we now call Australia was terra nullius led to ‘invasion day’, frontier wars, massacres, dislocation from country, and the ‘stolen generation’. The First Nations people still bear the cost of that savage legacy. Similarly, the belief that Syrian people who do not support the foreign sponsored ‘revolution’ are superfluous to any discussion about Syria and are, therefore, expendable reflects a similar level of 18th, 19th and 20th century racism, criminal hubris and ignorance.

Syrian children in Apamea, 2004. Photo by Susan Dirgham

How to account for Sophie McNeill’s partisan support for the ‘revolution’? It could be because she hasn’t reported from any government-held parts of Syria to get the points of view of Syrians who oppose the ‘revolution’. It could be she has a naive trust in people she views as friends who advocate for the ‘revolution’. She takes their accounts at face value and when they show her videos that depict victims of horrific violence, McNeill trusts the claim that the acts of violence were committed by Syrian government forces or their allies. She also takes at face value the claims of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch despite the fact that these NGOs usually express enthusiasm for US military action against Syria. (Ref: Nobel Peace Laureates to Human Rights Watch: Close Your Revolving Door to U.S. Government, 8 May 2014; Billionaire-backed Human Rights Watch lobbies for lethal US sanctions, by Ben Norton, The Grayzone, April 2020)

The reference list below includes articles by highly regarded scientists, journalists, and academics who present analysis and rigorous research.

Included are articles by the late Patrick Seale, Robert Parry and Dr Denis O’Brien – who all left a valuable body of work on Syria.

A. Australian journalists who have reported from Damascus since the ‘Arab Spring’

  • Mark Davis can offer valuable insights into events in the first year of the ‘Arab Spring’ in Syria: ‘Syria’s Uprising
  • Luke Waters met a range of Syrians on his visits to Syria. He can offer insights into the challenges they face in building peace. He is the only Australian journalist to interview President Assad.
  • Chris Ray visited Syria in 2019 and wrote about the impact of US sanctions on the lives of ordinary Syrians. His report is especially important today as Syria’s damaged economy and health system confront the COVID-19 virus. He gives insight into how Australia’s abiding by US sanctions contributes to the suffering of Syrians.

Intensified US sanctions on Iran, Venezuela (and Syria) during the COVID-19 pandemic could amount to genocide, a former UN expert warns. Ref: The GrayZone, 20 March 2020. US sanctions on Iran, Venezuela (and Syria) during pandemic could be genocidal

B. People who have been given a platform on the ABC in the past

Included are links to articles or interviews of interest today.

C. Article by Peter Ford, a former British ambassador to Syria

Syria in the crosshairs of gunboat diplomacy by Peter Ford, Middle East Eye, 22 May 2018

D. Reporting on the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta, Damascus, 21 August 2013

Chemical Weapons and the ‘Red Line’

The alleged 2013 sarin attack in Ghouta supposedly crossed President Obama’s ‘red line’. Those who support ‘regime change’ and the ‘revolution’ maintained the government was responsible. The videos and images that rebels presented as ‘evidence’ are chilling. Estimates of the number of victims ranged from just over 300 to around 1,500. Many victims were young children.

However, analysis by various experts strongly suggests the Syrian government was not responsible for this chemical weapons attack. Furthermore, veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry pointed out that the US intelligence community could not confirm that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged sarin attack.

(Note: Turkish MP Eren Erdem claimed that evidence from a court case pointed to ‘Turkish nationals dealing directly with Isis and other terrorist groups in Syria, supplying them with sarin gas.’)

E. Important current news on the OPCW’s redacted report into an alleged chemical weapons attack in April 2018

This alleged CW attack led to President Trump launching military strikes on Syria.

F. Robert Stuart’s forensic analysis of a BBC report about an alleged ‘napalm’ attack on a Syrian school in Aleppo province, August 2013

When British MPs were voting on Britain launching military strikes against Syria after the alleged sarin attack on 21 August 2013, the BBC broadcast a report about a Syrian government plane allegedly dropping ‘napalm’ onto a small school in the Aleppo countryside. A BBC team that had entered Syria illegally to file a report happened to be at a hospital near the school so could film ‘victims’ arriving for treatment. There were two British doctors with the BBC team who gave credibility to the report; however, both were supporters of the ‘revolution’ in Syria.

UK activist Robert Stuart was suspicious when he looked closely at the news footage, which was later included in a more lengthy Panorama report titled ‘Saving Syria’s Children’, shown on SBS Dateline in October 2013. (The BBC removed the Panorama program from its website soon after Robert Stuart began raising questions.)

Stuart’s more than 5-year forensic analysis and research strongly point to the hospital scenes being fabricated, implicating the BBC and presumably MI6 in a false flag event to provoke military strikes against Syria. Stuart can even point to the presence of ISIS in the documentary.

Stuart speaking at an anti-war meeting: Fabrication in BBC Panorama Saving Syria’s Children: Robert Stuart, Media on Trial, 19 October 2017

The images below can be found on Stuart’s website: ‘Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘.

G. Analysis on different aspects of the war on Syria by Rick Sterling

Rick Sterling is a retired US engineer now committed to investigative journalism. He writes for alternative media outlets, including ‘Consort

Several years ago, Sterling was interviewed on an Israeli TV current affairs program about the White Helmets, a US and UK backed group that operates only in rebel-held parts of Syria and that Sophie McNeill has relied heavily on for ABC news reports.

Unfortunately, the interview with Sterling is not available online, but his articles on the White Helmets and other critical subjects are. Below are some of them.

H. Analysis on Syria by Sharmine Narwani

I. Analysis on Syria by Max Blumenthal

Blumenthal has written for The New York Times, The Nation, and Al-Jazeera. He recently set up the independent news website The Grayzone.

J. Al-Jazeera’s bias and ignoring of realities on the ground in Syria

Al Jazeera Journalist Explains Resignation over Syria and Bahrain Coverage, The Real News, 20 March 2012

‘No independent journalism anymore’ – ex-Al Jazeera reporter, RT, 14 March 2012

H. Dr Nabil Antaki

Now concerning the hospitals, we have repeatedly heard that the last hospital in the east had been destroyed, or that such-and-such hospital run by MSF [Doctors Without Borders] had been hit. But we are surprised: we know the city and there were not many hospitals in this part of the city before the war. Perhaps these are makeshift hospitals in buildings.

K. Articles by Susan Dirgham

Look out for updates on this page. There is a wealth of relevant material that has yet to be included.

Susan Dirgham


First posted on 30 March 2020

Updated with edits on 4 - 14 May 2020
Locals in Beit Jabri, Damascus, circa 2009. Photo by Susan Dirgham
Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, circa 2009. Photo by Susan Dirgham


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