Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 07, 2015

Why Is The NYT Doubting The Syrian Airstrike Against Nusra?

The airforce of the Syrian Arab Army bombed a military leadership meeting of Jabhat al-Nusra in north Syria and killed four of Nusra's leading military commanders as well as some other Nusra members. This is a huge success for the Syrian government and a probably catastrophic loss for Nusra. This facts of the story are obvious when one reads the report Reuters put out. But reading the New York Times one has to dig down deep, deep into its piece to find a mealy mouthed paragraph about the Syrian success.

The Reuters version:

BEIRUT— Al-Qaida's Syrian branch was left reeling on Friday after its military chief was killed in an apparent army air strike, adding to confusion over the future path of the most powerful group opposing both President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State.
The Syrian military said it had carried out Thursday's attack, which also killed a number of other Nusra leaders. A Syrian military source said the headquarters had been struck from the air.

Jihadist sources had initially said Thursday's blast was the result of an air strike by a U.S.-led coalition that has been bombing Islamic State in Syria. However, the coalition denied mounting any strikes in the province in the preceding 24 hours.

It is obvious who did this. It was an air attack as confirmed by Nusra sources and the U.S. had no planes in the area. The Syrian airforce is the only one that could have done this and it claims the strikes.

So why does the New York Times its best to confuse the issue and to not acknowledge the important victory of the Syrian government?

It starts out:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A loyalist of Osama bin Laden who trained fighters to battle American troops in Iraq and became a commander of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria was killed there in the last week along with three fellow leaders, according to Syrian insurgents and a monitoring organization.

Reports differed on exactly when and how the commander, Samir Hijazi, and the other leaders of the affiliate, the Nusra Front, were killed. But the deaths of so many top figures, if confirmed, would signal a sharp blow to the Nusra Front, one of the strongest insurgent factions fighting the Syrian government.

Following the lead-in are sixteen additional paragraphs of conspiracy theories on how, when and where the Nusra leaders might have been killed or not. None of those is confirmed and the sources are dubious. Only down in paragraph nineteen (19) do we learn:

The Syrian state news agency, SANA, also reported the death of Mr. Hijazi, but said he had been killed by Syrian government forces further south of the Turkish border.

What is the NYT's motivation to not report that the Syrian government killed the Nusra leaders? Does it have sympathies for Nusra because Nusra, at least in south-west Syria, is allied with Israel? Does it want to obfuscate that Syria is fighting against the same jihadi enemies the U.S. claims to fight?

Posted by b on March 7, 2015 at 14:33 UTC | Permalink


I believe the above questions are purely rhetorical and stem from an atavistic desire to see an organ of propaganda instead behave as a real news organization.

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Mar 7 2015 14:52 utc | 1

The strike was done by Syrian air force, A tip from team of operatives from Syrian Army Military Intelligence about rats meeting with a crackpot sent from Qatar's monkey prince Tameem son of madam banana.
The meeting was about explaining to the rat leaders how Nusra was going to remarket itself as a non-Alqaeda spawn
With that it'll become the new "moderate fighters" and USA would never Hit her puppies, so with that the strike is done either by SAF or some aliens from out space!!

Posted by: SAF | Mar 7 2015 15:18 utc | 2

Does it want to obfuscate that Syria is fighting against the same jihadi enemies the U.S. claims to fight?

Yes to your question, now it in the open Israel support to these terrorists, shows how shallow Ben Mileikowsky speech to the US Congress was, equating Iran and ISIS, on British news they seem to suggest that the Iraq Armed Forces success against ISIS is only due to "surgical strikes" by the Americans.

Posted by: papa | Mar 7 2015 15:23 utc | 3

This looks like what the international news would look if it is not spoon fed by government sources--reporters actually trying to figure the story out. Instead of immediate attribution of cause and identification of the perpetrator (Putin had Nemtsov killed, Putin had MH17 downed, Assad gassed his own people), it's refreshing to see doubt inserted into the news. In fact, it's probably a clear demarcation between the usual propaganda, which is reported with absolute certainty, and real news.

Posted by: JohnH | Mar 7 2015 15:37 utc | 4

The last paragraph probably is on the mark. The NYT didn't want to be seen as a bought and paid for mouthpiece for the Israeli government, especially considering where the NYT is based. Too many delicatessens.

Posted by: Norman | Mar 7 2015 15:55 utc | 5

The re-branding of Nusra as a moderate Jihadi outfit has been under way for some time. American media has gone to great lengths not to reveal that it is in fact Al Qaeda. The American plan to provide Nusra with equipment that would enable it to call in US airstikes is now in tatters. With Nusra's leaderhship destroyed, who do the CIA and the Zionists now make deals with? Rather than fighting ISIS, the rudderless Nusra organization will likely be folded into it. ISIS is now the only game in town for holy warriors. When will the marketing campaign to re-brand ISIS begin?

Posted by: Gareth | Mar 7 2015 16:10 utc | 6

@6 'When will the marketing campaign to re-brand ISIS begin?'

How about right here on MOA. Clearly all the beheadings are done for humanitarian reasons. The destruction of monuments clears the way for a bright progressive future.

Posted by: dh | Mar 7 2015 16:16 utc | 7

This report is too confused to draw any valid conclusions from. B mistakes "jihadi sources" for al Nusra and the MSM reports are second or third hand accounts. Even the Syrian military contradicts the reports about the location of the attack.

It is questionable that al Nusra would have gathered this many leaders in one place but there may be some better more accurate follow-up.

Linking to these Presstv pictures as proof of Nusra/Israel alliance is beyond laughable but some people want desperately to believe this nonsense, the armed men pictured could have been the Neighborhood Watch for all we know.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 16:16 utc | 8

"What is the NYT's motivation to not report that the Syrian government killed the Nusra leaders?"

It may be due, at least in part, to reluctance of the NYT to publish anything which might vitiate the ruse that all military action undertaken by the Syrian government is always indiscriminate and targets civilians and population centers.

Posted by: BSA | Mar 7 2015 16:40 utc | 9

"Even the Syrian military contradicts the reports about the location of the attack"
Am I the only one who notice that you are always trying to mess with every news that came against Israel?!!
Give us one Syrian military source that conflict with other resources!!
The location of the strike that burned those rats is Al-Habeet in Idleb province

Posted by: SAA | Mar 7 2015 16:46 utc | 10


If you actually read the NYT report you would see, eight paragraphs from the bottom, that SANA reported that Hijazi was killed further south of the Turkish border than the other sources were reporting.

This incident has nothing to do with Israel and I was just tweaking b for dragging that fantasy connection into the post.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 17:05 utc | 11

Wayoutwest: Presstv isn't required for evidence of Israeli support for Al Nusra.

From a UN report:

“UN troops monitoring the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria have witnessed interactions between members of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Al Nusra Front who have taken over a large part of the Golan Heights.”

In the same report:

"UNDOF observed at least 10 wounded persons being transferred by armed members of the opposition from the Bravo side across the cease-fire line.”

When you add to these statements the numerous attacks on Syrian assets by the Israeli Air Force, there is absolutely no doubt that Al Nusra are enjoying significant military and medical assistance from Tel Aviv.

Posted by: Andy | Mar 7 2015 17:11 utc | 12


You have to try to do better than this, I did read it, but you the one who seems either ignorant or just as said before that you are trying to mess with such news, Cause Al-Habeet is next to southern Turkish borders within 20 kilometers!!!

Posted by: SAA | Mar 7 2015 17:22 utc | 13

Ohh and btw no its not a fantasy dear Wayoutwest,it's a pure truth
There are many photos of bibi checking on wounded rats of Nusra members so if we suppose that they only give medical care to those rats that means they DO SUPPORT them!!!

Posted by: SAA | Mar 7 2015 17:35 utc | 14

No surprise. IS is totally anti Arab
Hatra was the place where the first Arab kingdom was established

Posted by: Hatra | Mar 7 2015 17:35 utc | 15

why isn't the NYT doubting this story?

maybe Wayoutwest can debunk it for us?

Posted by: john | Mar 7 2015 17:46 utc | 16


I cannot find the actual UN report but if I recall correctly it stated that the IDF interactions were with the so called moderate Syrian armed groups such as the FSA and didn't mention al Nusra. If you have a link to the actual UN report that contradicts my recall I would appreciate the information. The Israelis also claim they didn't vet the injured they treated so it is possible some al Nusra fighters were treated but that is speculation.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 18:46 utc | 18


As far as I can tell there has been two recent, January, attacks on the Syrian Army/Airforce. The rocket attack on Syrian positions was in retaliation for them allowing a Hezbollah rocket attack on the Israeli side of the Golan and the other was the shooting down of a Syrian fighter jet for violating Israeli airspace. I don't think you can view these attacks as anything but isolated incidences and certainly not as pro al Nusra policy.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 18:58 utc | 19

The Israelis seem to think they are clever by broadcasting their 'Humanitarian' actions on the Syrian border and this propaganda may work on local audiences but it is quite transparently a jab at Hezbollah and their sponsor Iran.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 19:08 utc | 20


All the relevant UN reports are here if you want to read them:

In the afternoon of 24 April, two members of the armed opposition displayed
the severed head of a presumed Syrian armed forces officer as they passed United
Nations position 80.

Moderate, eh?

But aside from that, Israel claims that weapons fire from the Golan Heights is the responsibility of Syria, which is preposterous when 'the rebels' control a large part of it. Israeli claims of air space violations and Syrian attacks aren't credible. It would take a particularly stupid Syrian officer to give Israel any reason to respond considering Syrian armed forces are barely managing to hold their own against the motley crew of sex slave kidnappers and executioners.

Posted by: Andy | Mar 7 2015 19:52 utc | 21

Huh humanitarian actions!! It's really obvious that you are not defending them hahaha you are really a funny man or are you so dump not to see thier benefits from supporting rats fighting hizbullah???
Anyway they are known by pigs actions through history they never had a humanitarian action not even to thousands of Palestinian olive trees they burn every year

Posted by: SAA | Mar 7 2015 20:27 utc | 22


Thanks for the link but my old computer won't download the PDF for some reason and I don't know which one to read. A quote from the correct file identifying al Nusra as the party the IDF met would be appreciated.

You did notice that I did proceed the word Moderate with So-Called.

Legally under the UN brokered ceasefire I think Syria is responsible for actions originating from their territory even though I understand your point.

I can't comment on the intelligence of Syrian pilots but there was no counterclaim from Syria, as I recall, about the Israeli claim of their airspace being violated.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 20:29 utc | 23

ISIS medical expenses covered by ErdoganCare:

Posted by: BSA | Mar 7 2015 22:43 utc | 24

I don't know b. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Don't get me wrong, had Syrian armed forces saved American hostages from execution at the eleventh hour, outlets such as the NYT would have concluded that it was damning evidence of collusion between IS and Assad - that only intimate coordination between the two could have enabled a successful rescue, and that somehow they were working together to prove that Assad wasn't so bad after all. To outlets such as NYT, the Syrian Government is eternally damned if they do and damned if they don't. This won't change.

However, the timing of this apparent airstrike is suspicious. No sooner had the dust settled on the embarrassment of Al-Nusra's 45 tonnes of TNT detonating literally right under the noses of the Syrian Government's Aleppo Air Force Intelligence, that Syria's air force is alleged to have been so savvy to have launched a pin point airstrike on a gathering of Al-Nusra leaders in a house along the Turkish border. Could it not be the case that after the group announced the deaths of these men at the hands of the coalition, only for the coalition to deny having launched any strikes in the area, that the Syrians spotted an opportunity to claim responsibility in an attempt to salvage some pride after the Aleppo bombing?

I find it strange, too, that this should happen so soon after it was noted that Qatar hoped to rebrand Al-Nusra as a group to do business with. Despite generally disregarding the article, Hubbard at the NYT notes that those targeted in Thursday's strike were notorious for their links to Al-Qaeda. If one is trying to undermine this link, or at least for the sake of appearances, wouldn't such a hit be a good place to start? It wouldn't be the first time that militant groups and their backers have conspired against each other, with mysterious bombs wiping out men at the top. And if the Syrian Government was to come forward and claim responsibility, detracting attention from the real culprits, all the better.

Who knows?

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Mar 8 2015 0:59 utc | 25

BSA post 24

This is indeed bizarre. Shouldn't that guy be under medical care in a prison hospital?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 8 2015 18:40 utc | 26

Piotr Berman @26

Yes, he should be except the Turkish prime minister takes it upon himself to care for the army of Orcs he hosts.

Posted by: BSA | Mar 9 2015 2:37 utc | 27

Al Nusra has made a statement that it has no intention to break its relations with AQI. This rumor may have been started by Qatar to attempt to manipulate Nusra for its own purposes.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 10 2015 1:58 utc | 28

The Western medias do no want to give the Syrian army any credit, they prefer to stick to accusations of "barrel bombing" the civilians. That's the cliche that must be maintained consistently. That's why any achievement of the Syrian army against ISIS or Al Nusra is drowned into a sea of "maybe" "allegedly", while any minor US coalition success is emphasized a hundred times. That's is called impartial western journalism these days. ..
While the coalition is just a nuisance to the ISIS, it is the Syrian army, the NDF and the Kurds who are doing the real job.
A time will come when it will be openly acknowledged.

Posted by: Virgile | Mar 10 2015 8:12 utc | 29


If you look at ME sources, except SANA and Iran, you will see that things are not going well for the SAA. Their last victory was last year in Homs. It appears that the Iranians have taken over leadership and are using Hezbollah and other Shia militias as the shock troops in their recent attacks but with little success.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 10 2015 16:14 utc | 30

Wayoutwest says:

If you look at ME sources, except SANA and Iran, you will see that things are not going well for the SAA.

perhaps you could be a little more specific?

Posted by: john | Mar 10 2015 17:28 utc | 31


The last time Hezbollah was battle hardened was almost ten years ago and since that time they have only honed their skills with attacks on the Lebanese Army. Now they are getting experience fighting real battle hardened fighters in Syria and Iraq and they are not doing that well even with Syrian air support, see the results in Aleppo.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 10 2015 17:30 utc | 32


All news sources have their biases and spin and should be read with a critical eye. Al Monitor, The Daily Star of Lebanon and even Al Jazeera produce useable reporting from local sources and Israeli news is sometimes interesting.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 10 2015 17:45 utc | 33

Wow @ 34

yeah, that's terrific, but maybe you could be even more specific and point us to some actual articles that describe a deteriorating situation for the Syrian Arab Army.

Posted by: john | Mar 10 2015 17:59 utc | 34


I don't do links so you will have to do your own digging but I have noticed a lack of news about the Southern Front offensive even on the pro Syria sites.

I haven't read much about the condition of the SAA but I have read that thousands of young Syrian men are leaving the country to escape conscription.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 10 2015 18:26 utc | 35

Wow @ 35

well, if you haven't read much about the condition of the SAA, and that you have no specific sources, then why do you tell us that things are not going well for them?

b.s. where did you read "that thousands of young Syrian men are leaving the country to escape conscription?"

Posted by: john | Mar 10 2015 18:58 utc | 36


The rout of the SAA at Aleppo is well documented and just a day ago more territory north of Aleppo fell to rebel forces. B even reported here at MOA on the SAA defeat at Aleppo although he tried to blame it on a ghost brigade of Turkish Special Forces.

The internal condition of the SAA is a separate question if related to their problems and failures. Stories on Syrian youth avoiding conscription can be easily found with a simple search ' Syrian youth avoid conscription'.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 10 2015 19:42 utc | 37

Wayoutwest @ 37

ok, so far you have the SAA losing one battle (due to ambush) somewhere on the north side of Aleppo and the apparent reluctance of some Syrian men to go to war.

that it?

Posted by: john | Mar 10 2015 21:40 utc | 38

Unfortunately, Al Akhbar English has apparently been phased out. The past few weeks, it has been especially informative about Syria with a weekly news wrap-up.

I've read in several sources throughout the Arab Spring about parents in insurgent-held areas smuggling their teens out of country so that they would not be kidnapped/drafted by ISIL or JAN. Just last week, I read an account about youth in ISIL-occupied Iraq finding ways to escape the ISIL draft there (which is apparently more systematic).

Early in the Arab Spring, there were many accounts of Sunni Syrians avoiding the draft, deserting the army or even being pestered by friends in the insurgency to desert. Even CJ Chivers claimed that such recruitment of army deserters became unsuccessful within a year or so after the insurgency began.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Mar 11 2015 0:43 utc | 39

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