Amnesty’s Syrian “revolution”: response from associate of Syria Solidarity Movement

A further response to my complaint to Amnesty, from an associate of the original Syria Solidarity Movement. I have embedded two links for reference. See also this reply from Syrian resident Lilly Martin.

From:  David Macilwain
Sent: 14 September 2016 13:22:34
Cc:; Robert Stuart; Lilly Martin Sahiounie

Dear Louise,

Following Robert’s invitation below, I would like to add my own opinion on the position that Amnesty has taken over the war on Syria, and evidently continues to take despite mounting evidence that this position is seriously mistaken.

I am an associate of the original Syria Solidarity Movement, set up to counter the false narratives being spread by the NATO and Gulf countries responsible for fomenting the war in Syria. We have nothing in common with the so-called ‘Syria solidarity UK’ group, and in fact are entirely opposed to it and the campaign it supports for violent regime change in Syria, under the guise of a ‘revolution’ and ‘freedom from tyranny’ in Syria.

It is deeply regrettable that Amnesty UK, in concert with Amnesty US, has been co-opted by Western governments into the illicit project to remove Syria’s highly popular and re-elected President. Amnesty’s role in spreading false propaganda and allegations about hospital abuses and torture, which originate from ‘activists’ and other highly suspect sources, has been highly damaging to Syria, both in assisting the maintenance of the false narrative that supports the war, and in indirectly contributing to so many deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of our ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘moderate rebels’.

Amnesty’s consistent failure to examine the numerous war crimes and daily barbarism of these unaccountable legions of terrorists and mercenaries contrasts with their frequent focus on the supposed crimes of the Syrian Army and President Assad, as Syria fights in self defence to protect its country and people.

Most fundamental of the problems with Amnesty’s position on Syria is the failure, common to all of the mainstream Western media and authorities, and the refusal to accept, or even acknowledge, the popular will of the vast majority of Syrians in Syria, who voted in May 2014 to keep their President, and now support him overwhelmingly, knowing that all the claims from Western agencies about his conduct are lies. They also share Assad’s expressed desire to rid Syria of terrorist groups and their foreign backers.

It is not too late for Amnesty, and the many honourable people who support it, to wake up to the reality of the West’s ‘dirty war on Syria’, and start doing the right thing for humanity by supporting Syrian sovereignty and her fight for peace and security. Amnesty’s influence over public opinion is huge, and such a change in viewpoint could really make a difference.

For more reliable information on what has really happened in Syria I specially recommend Professor Tim Anderson’s book ‘the Dirty War on Syria’ – available online or in hardback from Hands off Syria in Sydney.

with regards, David Macilwain,

Sandy Creek, Victoria, Australia.

Amnesty’s Syrian “revolution”: a response from a Syrian resident

I have received the below response to my complaint to Amnesty from Syrian resident Lilly Martin. See also this subsequent reply from an associate of the original Syria Solidarity Movement.

From: Lilly Martin
To: Robert Stuart;
Subject: Re: Complaint: Syria Solidarity UK at Amnesty event
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2016 07:10:51 +0200

Dear Mr. Stuart and Ms. Orton,

As an eye witness to the entire war in Syria, from March 2011 to present, I can state this was no revolution.  I am an American citizen living permanently in Syria, which is my husband’s birthplace.  I have been here 24 years.

A real revolution would have the support of the people, inside Syria, not Syrian living in Paris and London for the past 40 years.  To have a real grassroots uprising, you need the support of the people living inside Syria, who would share your views.

If it had been a real uprising/revolution, the whole process could have taken 3-6 months, because the Army would have followed the will of the people, given the fact the Syrian Army is made up of Syrians of all ethnic and religious sects.   The Syrian Army is a true representative of the Syrian population.  If the population wanted the goals stated by the ‘protesters’, which was to  establish Islamic law in Syria, and to abolish the current secular government, the Army would have eventually followed along, expressing the will of the people.

However, you had a small minority in the Syrian population who were for regime change, but this very small group was backed by USA, UK, NATO, EU, and the Arab Gulf Monarchies.   Money talks, as we say in America.

Yes, Syria is home to many Radical Islamic ideology followers, as is UK, USA and Europe.  However, their numbers are still in the minority.  In a democracy, the majority rule.  The Syrian opposition does include non-Islamist political people, mainly communists and other secular thinkers, but those people have never held a gun, and have never advocated violence, destruction or armed revolution.  It has been strictly the Radical Islamic ideology  followers who have supported armed rebellion.  Because their numbers were, and are still, so small comparing to the rest of the 20 million Syrians, they never had a chance to win, and can not win on the ground.  Their ‘revolution’ has just been an attack on the unarmed  civilian population who do not agree with them.

We are hoping that a peaceful negotiated settlement, with positive changes and reforms, can be made through joint talks between the UN, and both sides of the Syrian conflict.  This is our chance for peace.

Finally, this morning Sept 14, 2016 on the BBC they announced a UK Members of Parliament commission, studying the role of the UK in the war in Libya, had concluded the UK role was wrong, shameful and  “opportunistic, and for regime change”.  Meaning, the UK under PM Cameron should not have participated in the NATO and US attack on Libya, which was not a humanitarian effort, but an ‘opportunistic attack for regime change’, as stated on BCC.  This is the same story of Syria.   Perhaps in 5 years time, we may watch BBC announcing a UK Parliament commission, studying the UK role in the death and destruction in Syria.  My question to myself, and all others: Why can’t we study these types of decisions BEFORE we commit to destroying lives and countries abroad?  I said this question out-loud at the breakfast table this morning, and my son who is an MBA graduate, answered back, “Mom, because UK always takes their  orders from USA, regardless of the consequences”.   That view should be the  focus of every UK citizen and politician, on how UK can stand alone, and make decisions in the future which benefit UK, and not follow USA blindly, down a road of regret.

Best regards,
Lilly Martin

Complaint: Syria Solidarity UK at Amnesty event‏

From: Robert Stuart
Sent: Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:23
Subject: Complaint: Syria Solidarity UK at Amnesty event

Dear Louise

Thank you for speaking briefly with me at the Amnesty Refugees Welcome Autumn Fayre in Islington on Saturday.

I was startled to hear your MC refer to the “revolution in Syria”. Do you not feel that “a largely Sunni Islam uprising, dominated by Sunni extremists who are armed and funded from the heartland of religious extremism, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and their paymaster the United States” [1] might approach a more accurate description of events in Syria since 2011?

I was then appalled to discover that the speaker being introduced was a representative of Syria Solidarity UK [2], an organisation which “appears to support all the al Qaeda aligned armed groups” [3] in Syria.

This speaker stated as fact the unproven – not to say thoroughly debunked [4] – claim that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and called upon the audience to support the illegal violation of Syrian air space with “humanitarian” aid-drops. As has often been observed, the notion that the Syrian government can prevent food, but cannot prevent armaments and munitions, from entering areas held by militant groups rather illustrates the dubiety of the former claim.

Your MC then publicly congratulated the speaker on her “call to arms” – a figure of speech, of course, but one which was thoroughly justified by the blood and thunder rhetoric to which the assembly on Islington Green had just been subjected.

Yours sincerely

Robert Stuart


Second unidentified European at Atareb Hospital

The broader context to the matters discussed in this post are summarised in this recent piece on the website OffGuardian.

At 21 seconds in the below You Tube video (higher quality source copy here) shot outside Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 a white male can be glimpsed snatching a piece of patterned fabric from the back of a pickup truck. Moments later a hand – perhaps belonging to the same man – is seen flicking a dark sheet over an unseen object in the truck. [1]

The man appears to be European, is wearing a microphone headset and seems to be in military garb:


Another view of the back of the pickup truck is provided in this video from the same day:

However it is only in the sequence commencing at 2 minutes 26 seconds in the video below [2] that it is clear that the object bundled in blankets appears to be a burned corpse. As the English captions relate, this sequence consists of a mother, having purportedly searched for her daughter Wala’a [3] in the environs of Atareb Hospital, discovering her child’s corpse in the truck but failing to recognise her.


Alleged victim Wala’a from above video

The presence of a militarily attired westerner at the Aleppo hospital to which alleged victims of the alleged Urm al-Kubra napalm attack were transported would appear highly incongruous.

Apart from BBC reporter Ian Pannell, BBC cameraman Darren Conway and British doctors Rola Hallam and Saleyha Ahsan (whom the Panorama crew were following in Syria), all of the medics, alleged victims, relatives and others seen in the BBC’s two news reports of the incident and in the related segment of the Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children (from 30 minutes 38 seconds) appear to be – as one would expect – indigenous to the locale.

The sole exception is the unidentified European male who is glimpsed carrying a bulky camera, using a walky-talky and – most strikingly – hastily ducking out of view upon noticing that he is being filmed by Darren Conway. When questioned about the identity and/or role of this individual Saving Syria’s Children’s editor, Tom Giles, snappishly commented that he had “no idea” who he was.

giphy (11)Unidentified European male in BBC footage of the aftermath of the alleged Urm al-Kubra incendiary attack. The man, wearing a grey shirt and spectacles and carrying a camera, ducks out of view at 2:06 in the BBC News report of 30 September 2013.

untitled (62)

Same man at 31:39 in Saving Syria’s Children, checking device as alleged casualties are rushed into Atareb Hospital (

untitled (61)

At 35:52 in Saving Syria’s Children, outside Atareb Hospital on a walkie-talkie (

What role did these two men play in the events of Monday 26 August 2013 at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo? Who were they each in communication with?


Update April 2020: The man in the grey shirt and spectacles has been identified by a former BBC employee as a member of the BBC High Risk Team. I am withholding his name on this blog.

In August 2014 Dr Saleyha Ahsan, one of the British medics who had featured in Saving Syria’s Children a year previously, presented a segment on BBC2’s Newsnight programme about HOSPEX (Hospital Exercises), a “macro-simulation” used by British Army medical services in preparation for deployment to battle zones. In HOSPEX exercises, Dr Ahsan explains, “actors and make-up artists mimic even the most severe of injuries” with the aim of “replicating exactly the conditions medics will face in the field”. [4]

There is a personal connection between the army brigadier “in charge of the whole operation” featured in the Newsnight report, Kevin Beaton, and Dr Ahsan: “he was my squadron commander in Bosnia and inspired me to study medicine”.

The company which provided the highly sophisticated injury simulations seen in the Newsnight report is TraumaFX, which proudly claims to be “UK’s leading provider of realistic casualty simulation”.


Post on TraumaFX’s Facebook page, 12 August 2014. The post has subsequently been deleted: The simulated foot injuries are described in the report as “degloving”, a type of alleged injury which features on several of the alleged victims in Saving Syria’s Children.

TraumaFX’s website states that it “support(s) various military forces internationally” and “can easily travel international as we are a mobile team and can work in any location”. The company has over 10 years’ experience of supporting UK military training exercises.

In addition to providing clients with “Casualty Role Play Actors & Amputee Actors” and “SIMWOUNDS” (“practical, realistic” wound effects), TraumaFX is specialist “in simulating CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear] injuries and conditions”.

The company, which is based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire – just over 20 miles from the Army Medical Services Training Centre (AMSTC) at Strensall, near York, where HOSPEX exercises are conducted – also creates “SIMBODIES” – “life like dead bodies and body parts designed and produced to appear extremely realistic, heavily weighted and ideal for use in CSI, disaster victim identification and mortuary training exercises.”


Some of the highly realistic “SIMBODIES” and body parts created by TraumaFX

With this level of craftsmanship available to the British military from a “mobile team” which “can easily travel international” and which “can work in any location”, the tragic image of Wala’a’s burned corpse in the back of a pick up truck at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 – just three days before a crucial UK parliamentary vote on military intervention in Syria [5] – may perhaps begin to assume a different complexion.






[1] As can be seen in the screen grab below, this video was originally uploaded by the You Tube channel “Aleppo and Idleb” on 26 August 2013, the day of the alleged Urm al-Kubra incendiary attack. At some point prior to 8 April 2015 this channel was terminated and the original posting of the video hence deleted.


As observed here, the video is notable for the reference reportedly made in it by the fighter in camouflage clothing to “seven martyrs and about 50 wounded from the religious college for women and girls”. The majority of alleged victims who appear in the BBC’s reports of the alleged incident are adolescent and older males.

Update: The fighter in camouflage clothing has been identified as Yusuf Zou’a, formerly a commander of the Ansar Brigade and military commander of Jaysh al-Mujahideen (Army of Mujahideen), which is allied to the al-Nusra Front. Zou’a was recently killed in Aleppo. See here, here and here.

[2] This short three minute video is also included towards the end of this longer report by the Aleppo News Network. In the sequence (from 20 minutes 33 seconds) a number of the individuals filmed by the BBC’s Darren Conway can be observed, including the woman who appears to have exchanged clothes with another alleged victim during the course of the day and Ahmed Darwish, as well as Drs Rola Hallam and Saleyha Ahsan. Of particular note is the fleeting appearance, at 20 minutes 36 seconds, of a woman who appears to be the same individual who made contact with me on Facebook in June 2014, apparently anxious at being identified as having been present at Atareb Hospital on 26 August 2013.

For analysis of the interview with the medic (who also appears in the BBC’s reports) from just after 12 minutes in the video, see here and here.

[3] Syrian opposition activist organisation the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria lists a female child victim of the alleged attack as Walaa al-Ali. See here for a discussion of conflicts between the VDC’s list of casualties and the BBC’s reports.

[4] See also this discussion of HOSPEX “macro simulation” techniques and their possible relationship to the alleged injuries seen in the BBC’s reports of the alleged Urm al-Kubra incendiary attack.

[5] Ian Pannell’s initial report of the alleged incident was broadcast on the BBC’s 10 O’Clock News on Thursday 29 August 2013, just as the parliamentary vote was taking place. As OffGuardian observes:

As it happens the motion for intervention was unexpectedly defeated by a narrow majority. If this had not happened the BBC’s footage would unquestionably have served as very timely and useful PR in support of the coming war against Assad.