Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 04, 2018

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-09

Feb 26 - State Department Troll Farm Receives Huge Cash Infusion

The above is one 'success' of the neo-conservatives and Clinton apparatchiks who created the idiotic Hamilton 68 project which U.S. media extensively used to make up bullshit stories about Russian bots. But it has become too obvious that the whole thing is based on fakery. The alleged Russian bots are just normal people who do not agree with some U.S. policies and tweet and use hashtags to express themselves. The proprietors and salesmen of that outlet finally admit as much:

“I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” said Watts, the cofounder of a project that is widely cited as the main, if not only, source of information on Russian bots. He also called the narrative “overdone.”

Will any of the media now retract their fake-news stories about "Russian bots"?

Feb 28 - It's 2002 Again - New York Times Makes Bogus WMD Claims

The NY Times is implicating the new "axis of evil" - North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia - in nonsensical WMD claims for which there is no evidence at all.

Mar 1 - Russia Shows Off New Weapons - Tells U.S. To "Come Down To Earth"

The new weapons Russia presented are designed to overcome any strategic missile defense. The reflexive reaction of the U.S. military- industrial complex to this is of course a push for an expansion of missile defense.

Mar 2 - Afghanistan - A Pipeline, Peace And Many Spoilers

There is no response yet from the Taliban to the Afghan government's offer of unconditional talks. Simply saying "no" is unlikely to take this long.

Mar 3 - Syria Sitrep - Afrin, Idlib and East-Ghouta

Here are two additional pieces on the war on Syria which I highly recommend.

The first delves into the early days of the war and documents well how the uprising was Islamist and foreign directed from its very first day:
Did Assad Deliberately Release Islamist Prisoners to Militarize and Radicalize the Syrian Uprising?.

The second is published in Military Review, the professional journal of the U.S. Army. It is a extensive assessment of the Russian political and military execution of its Syria intervention. The authors appear to feel a certain envy:
What Kind of Victory for Russia in Syria?

In sum, Russia appears to have won at least a partial victory in Syria, and done so with impressive efficiency, flexibility, and coordination between military and political action. ... Russia’s “lean” strategy, adaptable tactics, and coordination of military and diplomatic initiatives offer important lessons for the conduct of any military intervention in as complex and volatile an environment as the Middle East. 

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on March 4, 2018 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

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The other thing is, currencies have a great deal to do with how competitive its products are. If a country has a weak currency, its exports are cheap. If a country has a strong currency, its exports are expensive, but imports are cheap.
In this way, imports from a country with a weak currency will always be cheaper than domestically made products in a country with a strong currency.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 6, 2018 2:26:42 AM | 101

Oldenyoung, another piece of info when looking at Syria.. Some time ago, not long after Russian entry into Syria, I looked up official population numbers, UN and so forth.
Pre-war Syria had a population of 24 million. 4.5 million were externally displaced (refugees). 16 million lived in government controlled areas (a large number of these were internally displaced, but less in number than the externally displaced). The bulk of the displacement occurred when 'rebels' took over territory.
So 4.5 mil externally displaced (neutrals), 16 million within gov held areas at the worst of times. This leaves 4.5 mil plus foreign fighters and their families in jihadist controlled areas.
These numbers are from a year or two back.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 6, 2018 4:01:23 AM | 102

Forgot the Kurd's in my previous post. A couple of million Kurds to be subtracted from jihadist controlled area. They were more or less neutrals until the US offered them a few pieces of silver.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 6, 2018 4:04:57 AM | 103

Authored by Pepe Escobar

"It took only two sentences for Xinhua to make the historical announcement; the Central Committee of the CCCP “proposed to remove the expression that ‘the president and vice-president of the People’s Republic of China shall serve no more than two consecutive terms’ from the country’s constitution.”

History will judge Xi by his deeds. The rest is mere Sinophobia.

Posted by: OJS | Mar 6, 2018 4:06:59 AM | 104

Thanks again to Jen, Peter and Noirette

@ Paveway....seriously, nets? didnt realize it was that bad



Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 6, 2018 5:49:58 AM | 105

Here we go again, the psyop against Russia never end.

Samantha Power blames Russia for anti-establishment success in Italy’s elections

Posted by: test | Mar 6, 2018 6:34:20 AM | 106

@98 deb

I'm sorry, but once again "polluting" seems like an incredibly arcane and neoliberal term. I thought we were beyond this? I don't think firing up the rotten husks of factories in Allentown is what people mean by bringing a functioning economy back. Nor is that reasonable or even possible. As paveway noted, Foxconn is bringing jobs and that is a start. It is time for Americans to once again know the value of making a buck. I'm afraid we have embraced neoliberalism for all the wrong reasons and now we are fast and cheap and think only Mexicans and lower forms can mop a floor or make a toilet shine. Working is good.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 6, 2018 8:49:10 AM | 107

James, 62, financial matters, 65.

Agree with f.m. on the whole …yet, depends on the type of activity. For Ex. USSR had a fully integrated state-funded ‘NHS’, centrally planned, tightly coordinated with Public Health, + Pharma was nationalised. (A mega-system.) Afaik, worked OK/more or less, on many cost-outcome measures, patient satisfaction, whatever, who knows, what were the standards?

Post 89..91 it suffered the same fate as Education, but far worse as docs need equipment, meds, etc. teachs can improvise, it limped with many working for free but …some would say it collapsed entirely, who can say.

Around 95/6 (end Yeltsin begin Putin) the system was changed to compulsory social ‘health insurance’ (paid for by the tax-payer for a large part..) and the encouragement of private health insurance. I.e. an attempt to measure / and control costs and partial ‘privatization’ in a 2-tier system (> see many EU countries.) These reforms have continued apace, supported by Putin (and Mevd. when Pres.)

Rand Corporation/ As a result, people now have to pay for services that yesterday they had received free of charge. In some cases, the charges for treatment have become very expensive. Anything to bash the Russkies..

More balanced: OECD on R. healthcare '07. PDF

The latest moves (2014 >) have been rationalisation of hosp. points (as in many countries), closing of regio. hospitals / med. outposts / maternity / etc. which lead to incredibly MASSIVE demos In Moscow, the biggest ever, not reported in W, as not against Putin, and 100% similar to demos in W… top of goog:

The ‘regionalisation’ has posed many problems (org. of funding).

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 6, 2018 9:54:16 AM | 108

Not only has Helmut Schmidt's Nachbar China not been published in English translation, but even the German original is not available on, which does, however, offer a Chinese translation. The German original is available from Amazon.De.

Posted by: lysias | Mar 6, 2018 11:01:39 AM | 109

@106 you're right! it is nuts!

@108 noirette.. thanks noirette for your comments and insight into my question... the whole world is caught up in this neoliberalism movement, but it is encouraging to think some country might be able to avoid it.. i was also asking fm what they thought of turkey in regards neoliberalism... if you read cps post @44, one gets the idea the reason erdogan has had the popularity he has in the west is due his willingness to sell off turkey... what do you think?

Posted by: james | Mar 6, 2018 12:44:44 PM | 110

Thanks Noirette, 108, good information. @james 110

Erdogan seems opportunistic and maybe a transition between extreme US led neoliberalism and a more mutltipolar system.

I think the future is with the silk road with China, Russia, Iran, India. This is why the US is fighting it at every angle. Turkey will probably see this and get on board with the silk road. So far these countries seem more respectful of a true multipolarity.

Posted by: financial matters | Mar 6, 2018 2:13:38 PM | 111

@111 fm.. thanks.. opportunistic is a good word for erdogan, but in the final analysis, i agree with your conclusion - turkey will join the silk road.. it will be interesting to see how we get their.. 'so far' is a good way to put it, lol.. lets hope that continues..

Posted by: james | Mar 6, 2018 2:43:46 PM | 112

lysias | Mar 6, 2018 11:01:39 AM | 109

ebay is another source.

Posted by: Ian | Mar 6, 2018 3:08:59 PM | 113

Dear james | Mar 6, 2018 2:43:46 PM | 112

"turkey will join the silk road"

I'm not sure about it. China = Globalists = 21st century folks (anti-Trump, anti make US great again, preserve 20th century capitalist status quo) Turks are extremely cautious with regards to the OBOR project.

3rd bosphorus bridge is operational, the world's biggest airport in Istanbul is getting built (1st stage will be completed in Oct) Baku-Tbilisi railway is ready etc. they are all 21st century projects, megacities, logistic cities, smart cities. Last week the US navy shared a photo with 3rd bridge neta and the next day Turkish MSM rumored that the bridge would be sold to the Chinese. Still, I don't think the Turks decided which side to choose between the 2 main rivals.

The Turks are independent people, unlike, say, the Americans or Europeans, they don't want to be ruled by foreigners be it the globalists or the capitalists. I think they'll wait until the last minute and only then they'll jump on the bandwagon so it is too early to tell if they will join the Silk Road. IMHO.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Mar 6, 2018 3:38:46 PM | 114

What Fresh Hell is this?   Deepfake videos.   Although I was expecting this, I didn't expect it to come this soon.   It's going to be very difficult separating the truth from the lies.

Posted by: Ian | Mar 6, 2018 3:39:56 PM | 115


The Spanish journal El País accuses "the Russian meddling machine" of conducting a “disinformation campaign" and meddling in Italy's elections. They even have a graph to prove it.

How Russian networks worked to boost the far right in Italy

An analysis of social networks reveals how Kremlin-backed media outlets boosted xenophobic discourse

According to an analysis of 1,055,774 posts from 98,191 social media profiles to which EL PAÍS has had access, a network of anti-immigration and anti-NGO activists has been sharing links of stories published mostly by Sputnik, a media organization owned by the Russian government and operating in Italian among other languages, in order to propagate a false image of Italy. In this scenario, the country has been invaded by refugees who are to blame for unemployment and inflation, in the midst of a crisis made only worse by the passive attitude of pro-European politicians; ultimately, the European Union itself is held up as a culprit.

Some counterarguments:

1) The elitist mainstream parties lost the Italian elections. They have no legitimacy. Maybe they should just shut up.

2) The West is entering and era of totalitarian media control. The mainstream media follows a very narrow official narrative. Dissenting opinions are expunged. The traditional divide between Leftist and Right-wing conservative newspapers has disappeared. All mainstream media is pro-elite, pro-Empire and pro-war.

3) There is a huge demand for professionally created content that differs from the elitist mainstream narrative. This is demonstrated by the success of the “Meme Factory” in St. Petersburg. Expressing a non-mainstream point of view as an easily understandable meme created thousands of shares and followers and ad revenue. Pro-establishment memes were less successful, as they had to compete with the offering of mainstream media.

4) The opposite of populism is elitism, although they like to call themselves “mainstream” or “the Establishment” or something like that.

5) Russia shares many points of views with Western conservatism and even the “alt-Right” movement. Correlation does not however imply causality.

6) The free marketplace of ideas it the defining element of an open society and the hallmark of the Free World. The principle of the free flow of information between the East and the West was a core element of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1975 and its Paris Charter of 1990 that ultimately ended the Cold War. American propaganda stations like RFE/RL were free to broadcast in Russia.

7) Graphs often show what one is looking for. If one is looking for pro-Russian racists, then one will find a correlation between Russia and racism. The #Hamilton68 scam works the same way. A secret list of pro-Putin and pro-Trump Twitter accounts produces random hashtags. The results show that Trump supports Putin and #Putin supports #Trump.

8) The graph shows an exceptionally low tendency of pro-immigration accounts to share content from Sputnik. Fear and intimidation are effective tools of censorship. The elite has been conditioned into not reading or sharing “Russian” content for fear of being labeled a “Russian troll” or otherwise deplorable. Self-censorship is the best form of censorship. RT and its Western staff are actually very liberal and Leftist, not at all conservative like many of their followers.

9) Years of anti-communist meddling and propaganda resulted in most populist parties and voices being racist or fascist. The “Left” no longer exists in the West. You cannot blame Russia for this.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Mar 6, 2018 3:52:44 PM | 116

So here is a link from Raw Story with a posting that is coming out weekly and catches the Trojan Horse work being done behind the circus scene we the current thread about the latest lies from the NYT

What Fresh Hell?: Trumpism is just a massive grift edition

One interesting quote
The Heritage Foundation announced this week that “the Trump administration has already implemented nearly two-thirds of the 334 agenda items” the right-wing think tank called for, “a pace faster than former President Reagan,” according to The Washington Examiner.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 6, 2018 10:02:19 PM | 117

@114 cp.. thanks...we'll see how it unfolds...

from todays usa daily press propaganda briefing...

see the link for more..

"And lastly, an update to bring you on the situation in Syria, particularly Eastern Ghouta. Brutal airstrikes by Russia and the regime continue, especially in Eastern Ghouta, despite the unanimous UN Security Council vote on February 24th to demand an immediate cessation of hostilities throughout Syria. The strikes on Eastern Ghouta in recent days have demonstrated the farcical nature of Russia’s proposed humanitarian corridor. Russia is clearly attempting to feign implementation of UNSCR 2401 while showing complete disregard for the ongoing humanitarian disaster that still unfolds.

There have been no meaningful pause – there has been no meaningful pause in the slaughter in Eastern Ghouta. Bombs and artillery are still falling on civilians and medical facilities in the Damascus suburbs. The long-delayed and insufficient aid finally allowed in yesterday was reported to have been looted by regime forces and stripped of emergency medical supplies that are so desperately needed there.

Russia’s unwillingness to adhere to its numerous commitments was fully demonstrated again by the fact that trucks carrying much needed aid were forced to withdraw from the area due to pro-regime attacks which killed dozens of innocent civilians. And let me remind you, this was backed by Russia.

Russia has agreed to unhindered humanitarian access in numerous UN Security Council resolutions, including UNSCRs 2165, 2254, and 2401; yet humanitarian convoys have been chronically delayed or barred by the Syrian regime, and those that do get through are wholly insufficient to meet the needs of the Syrian people.

Russia has not only failed to follow through on delivering regime adherence, but it continues to conduct airstrikes in Ghouta with its own air force. Russia and Assad regime continues to ignore the terms of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. Russia repeatedly delayed the adoption of the resolution, and it’s pretty clear now why they were reluctant to vote for it: They had no intention of following it.

Let me repeat what the White House said over the weekend: The Assad regime along with its backers in Moscow and Tehran should adhere to UNSCR 2401, should cease hostilities, and allow unfettered humanitarian access, in particular in Eastern Ghouta, where nearly 400,000 innocent civilians are in critical need.

And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions.

Posted by: james | Mar 7, 2018 2:59:58 AM | 118

@117 PH
Do you find Raw Story a bit over the top...? While maybe not fake news as such I would class it as a glossy extreme left outrage rag. I have it popping up on my feeds to view the monkey shit of the day, but should i find myself reading it I always get the feeling as though I immediately to go read something equally biased like Breitbart or FOXnews to balance.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Mar 7, 2018 4:20:05 AM | 119

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 6, 2018 8:49:10 AM | 107

Oh ffs, I just looked up a hilary clinton speech and in her first sentence she used "together, it, coming, also & is" Do we hafta stop using those words too?
Y'know I hope you realise that not every issue neolibs blather on about is untrue, it is the way neolibs use issues to divide a population rather than unify it, that is their most objectionable trait.
Once again the point I am trying to discuss has nothing to do with facile fucking semantics.
Fixing what is screwed in the amerikan economy is complex and deep seated. Trump not only lacks the wit and patience to develop a viable plan for fixing amerika's structural problems, he doesn't care enough about the issues to study them sufficiently and encourage anyone else to come up with a plan. That hurdle is further complicated because donny wouldn't know anyone who could strategise a solution since he considers 'all that in-depth stuff stoopid'.

And yes I'm sure some some neolibs especially dem neolibs have said the same, but that is irrelevant, plenty of rethugs have also expressed their disappointment at donnie's inability to think any overly complicated matters.

See, I'm sure that some people probably figure "so what? He gives it a go that's gotta be good right?" Er no I've seen this stuff in other places eg when the coal mines closed a 100 clicks and a steep mountain range west of where I'm sitting, the locals came up with a plan to build a clothing factory making woollen garments cos there was plenty of sheep around as well as coal. The govt ante'd up the cash & the result was a fucking mess which could have worked if a bit of nous about what people wanted had been brought to bear. It wasn't, the plan failed and now everytime someone suggests a reiurn to manufacturing instead of importing all consumer tat, the west coast factory failure is held up as evidence "ya can't turn the clock back".
Of course rebuilding a manufacturing base could work, but the Trump method, offering free money to billionaires is gonna attract types who want to get in, clean up, then get out, leaving Joe Lunchbox in an even worse state.
Don't believe me? Watch what happens then.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 7, 2018 6:02:21 AM | 120

In my view, the root of lossing manufacture jobs in US lies in the profit-seeking nature of the capitalists & capitalism.

"The compulsion for capital to grow, the irresistible urge for capital accumulation, realises itself above all through a constant drive for the increase of the production of surplus-value (profit)." - Kart Max

To maximise the profit means to minimise the costs through techonology revolution & cost reduction. To reduce the labour cost is on top of the agenda.

All the jobs that US lost are from the labour intesive industries (clothing/shoes/computer & iPhone assembly/mining/steel, etc.) , the labour costs in China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia are just too low for American moneyed-ones to transfer these type of manufacuring jobs back to US to cut their take of profit.

In fact, Nike & Co acutally have moved a lot of shoes & clothing making jobs out of China to Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia because the Chinese labour's wages are now a bit too higher for their perpetual pursuing of huge profits e.g. euphemism "better shareholder value."

That's why Trump's tariff wars will not win back any meaningful manufacturing job for the ordinary Americans who are waiting for work. The money-monoplied US government would not give a sh!t about the workers trying to build a clothing factory, since its objective is to serve the moneyed-ones to make more money. We all have heard the millions/billion incentives given to the super rich in the name of creating of jobs, haven't we?!

Posted by: mali | Mar 7, 2018 8:06:34 AM | 121

hojo @99

Much of Roberts' bio about Xi is true, except he heaps a bit to mcuh unrelated achievements under Xi.

- Xi lived and worked in an destitue small viliage in Shan Xi, where his father used to work, far away from Beijng, between the age 15-22.

- He started his career woking as party secretary of this village. He then moved up from county adminstrator, province governor in several parts of China to the Political Bureau (center of decision-making center) before his current job.

- He remebes people who helped him, be it VIP and small potatos. During one of his recent state visits to US, he made a detour to Muscatine, Iowa to pay a visit to Eleanor and Tom Dvorchak, who hosted him at their house when he first visited US 1985. Xi's Reunion With His American Host Family

- The CPC usually make 5-year, mid-term and long plans. For now it is still some (long) way to go.

- "xiaokang" and "datong" are Confucian concepts, but certainly not elitist. Confucism is about ethic code that governs the relationship between the ruler and his sujects, parents and their children, teachers and their students, society and individual conduct. Confucism runs deep in Chinese vein and is part of China's culture DNA, just like Christianality is part of the US/Europe's.

In according to Confucism, the legitimacy of the government, be it Emperor, Communist or any other forms, should be judged upon its good governance or bad governance . While here in the Western, it seems to me you put the emphasis on the the process legality as the sole reason to decide the legitimacy of a government.

Posted by: mali | Mar 7, 2018 9:23:38 AM | 122

@ MadMax2 with the question about RawStory

They used to be better and they still have aggregation I can't find elsewhere but otherwise your observations are accurate.

@ mali with the rant about the profit seeking nature of capitalism and more background on Xi.

Thanks for that. If you have much of MoA comments you know that making the tools of finance a public utility is my constant harangue here. I believe that the Chinese government can and will do a better job of leading humanity than the private finance directed folks today.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 7, 2018 10:29:11 AM | 123

@124 mina... those charming uae folks just can't stop being so charming, lol...

Posted by: james | Mar 7, 2018 5:51:15 PM | 125


"The compulsion for capital to grow, the irresistible urge for capital accumulation, realises itself above all through a constant drive for the increase of the production of surplus-value (profit)." - Karl Marx


The Western financial vultures are surrounding China and using every means (brainwashing, bribing, threating, etc.) to force China to totally open its financial sector so that they can repeat what they have achieved in other countries, namely to take control of China's banking/financial system so as to subject the manufacturing industry, agriculture, public services and people to become its perpetual indebt slaves.

It is very dangerous now for China and Xi. Not sure which way he's going to choose.

Posted by: mali | Mar 8, 2018 4:45:18 AM | 126

The oscars were a dud.The zionists are dead enders.They have no vision.
The Russian spy scandal(ho ho)in britain,b,you gonna cover it?
Mao,Stalin are dead.End of story.

Posted by: dahoit | Mar 8, 2018 12:07:31 PM | 127

Consortium News has a whistle-blowers news conference.Raddack?,Gun,Drake,and Hoh.Just posted.

Posted by: dahoit | Mar 8, 2018 1:51:09 PM | 128

mali @126:

Dangerous for China and Xi?   How so?   The US won't be able to fix their financial situation overnight.   It'll take at least a couple of decades *provided* Washington doesn't take their eyes off the ball.

On another front...Lynn de Rothschild quits Twitter.   This witch blames Russia!   ROFL

Posted by: Ian | Mar 8, 2018 7:21:48 PM | 129

"#BREAKING: Turkish FM says Turkey and the US have reached an understanding over Manbij and the east of the river Euphrates in Syria"

Turkey acting as US proxy occupation force. What else is new?

Posted by: David | Mar 9, 2018 4:05:58 PM | 130

It looks like the SAA Meat Grinder ™ is back in operation again, this time located north and south of Misraba in the East Ghouta pocket. A couple of weeks operation and all the jihadists will be fertilizing the fields they've occupied for so long. The best bit? The jihadists fall for it every time. You'd have thought their supporters in the Washington Borg would have worked it out by now.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 9, 2018 8:03:47 PM | 131

@131 ghostship.. thanks for the update.. when do the kurds figure it out with regard to the borg in washington?

Posted by: james | Mar 9, 2018 8:07:06 PM | 132

So while the Trump/Kim circus is happening the rest of the world is changing

11 countries sign CPTPP trade deal in Chile

The pact is also known as the TPP 11, since it evolved from the initial 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that fell apart after the United States withdrew from it in January 2017.

Ministers from the other 10 signatory states were also present in Chile, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The CPTPP preserves the core of the TPP, but suspends some 20 provisions, many having to do with controversial intellectual property rights.

The US will be the loser in any trade war but the private international financial system will prosper as it takes advantage of the crisis.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 10, 2018 12:24:52 AM | 133

>>>> james | Mar 9, 2018 8:07:06 PM | 132

I think you misunderstand the SAA Meat Grinder ™. It's designed to persuade your enemy to throw as many fighters as possible into a battle on a killing ground of your choice so the defenders become the attackers and suffer the consequences. In East Ghouta, the jihadists are trying to prevent the SAA from splitting the area in half which the SAA most likely could have done several days ago. Instead by offering the jihadists the "opportunity" to prevent this by stopping short, the SAA have encouraged the jihadists to throw fighters into what is essentially a pointless battle when those fighters would have greater impact elsewhere. In a few days the SAA will start moving again in East Ghouta but a lot of jihadists will have died attacking the SAA around Misraba.

Other examples include the air base at Abu Adh Dhuhur, the cemetery at Deir Ez-zor, The Ramooseh Roundabout (Aleppo) and the Castello Road (Aleppo).

The U.S. military is culturally incapable of handling such a concept.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 10, 2018 11:53:42 AM | 134

Hashd Al-Shaabi demands US immediately withdraw from Iraq

So who's surprised? The demands are only going to get stronger. How long it will take Iraq to get the Americans out is another question of course, but it'll be impossible to stay for ever, whatever Trump and the US military claim.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 10, 2018 1:21:41 PM | 135

Rueters, between propaganda and statements by "rebel officials" are - in this article - actually reporting what is going on in east Ghouta
...A middle-aged man interviewed by the channel shouted slogans in support of Assad and against the rebels while women and small children stood behind him as men in army uniforms looked on.

State media said the 60 civilians found in Mesraba by the army had been held by insurgents as human shields, something the rebel groups deny....

...The government has opened what it says are several safe routes out of eastern Ghouta for civilians, but none are known to have left so far. Damascus and Moscow accuse the rebels of preventing people from fleeing the fighting.

Insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta deny this, saying people have not left for fear of government persecution, but a Reuters witness on Friday saw gunfire and mortar fire from inside rebel territory near one of the crossing points.

Sajjad Malik, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Syria, who went in with the convoy on Monday, said in comments published on the agency’s website that people did not feel safe to leave.

People in Douma told him they feared crossing rebel checkpoints and were uncertain whether they would be safe when they reached government-held areas, Malik said...

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 10, 2018 1:47:20 PM | 136

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