I have been pointing out how the New York Times continues to parrot claims from Syrian opposition about the latest massacre in Daraya, Syria, while, in its efforts to characterize the massacre as having been committed by the Syrian government’s armed forces, outright lying about the previous massacre in Houla. (See my posts from two days ago and from yesterday, which should be read for background.)
Robert Fisk is the first journalist to enter Daraya since the massacre occurred, and what he reports confirms once again that there is plenty of reason to be skeptical of mainstream media reports that simply parrot opposition claims without independent verification. Here are some excerpts (emphasis added):
The men and women to whom we could talk, two of whom had lost loved ones on Daraya’s day of infamy four days ago, told a story different from the version that has been repeated around the world: theirs was a tale of hostage-taking by the Free Syria Army and desperate prisoner-exchange negotiations between the armed opponents of the regime and the Syrian army, before President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces stormed into the town to seize it back from rebel control.
…residents of Daraya said there had been an attempt by both sides to arrange a swap of civilians and off-duty soldiers – apparently kidnapped by rebels because of their family ties to the government army – with prisoners in the army’s custody. When these talks broke down, the army advanced into Daraya….
Yet we could talk to civilians out of earshot of Syrian officials – in two cases in the security of their own homes – and their narrative of last Saturday’s mass killing of at least 245 men, women and children suggested that the atrocities were far more widespread than supposed.
One woman, who gave her name as Leena, said she was travelling through the town in a car and saw at least 10 male bodies lying on the road near her home. “We carried on driving past, we did not dare to stop, we just saw these bodies in the street,” she said, adding that Syrian troops had not yet entered Daraya.
Another man said that, although he had not seen the dead in the graveyard, he believed that most were related to the government army and included several off-duty conscripts. “One of the dead was a postman – they included him because he was a government worker,” the man said. If these stories are true, then the armed men – wearing hoods, according to another woman who described how they broke into her home and how she kissed them in a fearful attempt to prevent them shooting her own family – were armed insurgents rather than Syrian troops.
The so-called journalists over at the Times could learn a lot from a real journalist like Robert Fisk, who is so undisciplined as to report the facts rather than parroting whatever line suits Washington’s agenda so as to manufacture consent for U.S. policies, such as its support for the armed rebels in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime. The Times is staffed by a bunch of Judith Miller wannabes.