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May 25, 2018

On Sources And Information - The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR) claims to be a one person shop in Coventry, Britain. But that is only the front story. It is part of a larger organization and the intelligence infrastructure used to wage war on Syria.

A few commentators have recently criticized that I used SOHR as a source in some of my pieces. Here is why.

SOHR is not a pure propaganda operation like the White Helmets are. It is relatively truthful in its reporting of events and casualties in Syria. The total casualty count of the war SOHR gives is likely too high due to some estimates it uses in its bottom numbers. But an early check of its detailed accounts showed that its reports from incidents on the ground were mostly correct.

SOHR's numbers have been quoted by about every news outlet in the world, usually in pro-rebel propaganda pieces. But it is not the observatory that turns the information it collects into propaganda. The media do that when they quote SOHR without the necessary caveats or when they disregard it where its information contradicts the official story. The examples below show that this is now often the case.

One of the first descriptions of the one man who allegedly runs SOHR is in a Reuters portrait from late 2011:

With only a few hours sleep, a phone glued to his ear and another two ringing, the fast-talking director of arguably Syria’s most high-profile human rights group is a very busy man.

“Are there clashes? How did he die? Ah, he was shot,” said Rami Abdulrahman into a phone, the talk of gunfire and death incongruous with his two bedroom terraced home in Coventry, from where he runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

When he isn’t fielding calls from international media, Abdulrahman is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife.

The idea that one man alone could keep track of all casualties in Syria, or stay in contact with so many local contacts on the ground, never made sense. It is simply too much work for one man who also runs a shop and cares for a family. It was obvious that there was more behind it.

SOHR's main function was to keep a current casualty count of the war in Syria. The Reuters piece noted:

According to the observatory’s latest figures, 3,441 civilians and 1,280 security forces have been killed.

The overall number in the casualty count SOHR gave did make sense. The categorization of the numbers did not. The numbers led casual readers assume that only one side of the war in Syria was armed. The numbers could not explained how the security forces were killed. It took a while before people woke up to that mismatch and asked SOHR. It willingly answered the question. But only few reports, like this one from June 2012, used the answer and explained the mismatch to their readers:

Those killed since March last year comprised 9,862 civilians, 3,470 soldiers and 783 army deserters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based watchdog counts rebel fighters who are not deserters from the army as civilians.

This was a technical correct but crude mislabeling of killed "civilians", most of which were in fact anti-government fighters. But SOHR did not hide its dubious categorization. Anyone who asked was provided with the caveat above. But only few journalist asked despite the obvious mismatch in the casualty numbers and even fewer put the caveat into print. You will hardly find it in any current news piece that uses SOHR numbers.

Patrick Lang, a trained military spy and former Middle East chief of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, asserted several times that the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" is run by MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service.

Peter Hitchens recently reported that SOHR is at least partially financed by the British Foreign Office:

Talking of war, and Syria, many of you may have noticed frequent references in the media to a body called the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’, often quoted as if it is an impartial source of information about that complicated conflict, in which the British government clearly takes sides. The ‘Observatory’ says on its website that it is ‘not associated or linked to any political body.’

To which I reply: Is Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office not a political body? Because the FO just confirmed to me that ‘the UK funded a project worth £194,769.60 to provide the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights with communications equipment and cameras.’ That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? I love the precision of that 60p. Your taxes, impartially, at work.

MI6 is subordinated to the British Foreign Office. The paltry sum of £195,000 pounds was surely not the only money Rami Abdulrahman received for more than seven years of daily work. There must be a rather large organization behind the dozens of news items and tweets the observatory puts out each and every day.

The SOHR reports often contain valuable information.

Over the last year, as the Syrian government side regained more and more ground, a new phenomenon arose. SOHR appeared less in western media reports on Syria. Its version of events was often missing in stories that involved U.S. operations. The reason was simple. SOHR continued to report somewhat truthful versions of events while the propaganda moved further away from reality.

Here are several incidents of many more where SOHR contradicted the official western propaganda tale. In reports about these incidents in the New York Times and elsewhere the SOHR's version of the events was simply ignored.

On October 13 2017 the U.S. coalition made a deal with the Islamic State to give free passage for ISIS fighters from the besieged Raqqa to south-east Syria. The U.S. military, which leads the coalition, loudly denied that it was involved.

SOHR disagreed:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights received information from Knowledgeable and independent sources confirming reaching a deal between the International Coalition and the Syria Democratic Forces in one hand; and the “Islamic State” organization in the other hand, and the deal stated the exit of the remaining members of the “Islamic State” organization out of Al-Raqqah city.

In January 10 2018 SOHR reported that the U.S. coalition released 400 ISIS fighters from prison and that at least 120 of them joined the Syrian Democratic Forces led by Kurdish fighters and U.S. special forces. It confirmed several U.S. attacks which had killed dozens of civilians in east Syria. The U.S. military denied that it let ISIS fighters go and it denied all civilian casualty claims.

On April 8 2018 the White Helmets propaganda organization claimed that a chlorine gas attack in East-Ghouta had killed dozens.

SOHR disagreed. It reported of people suffocating after their shelter came down on them. It did not report of any gas incident or casualties:

[A]mong the casualties there are 21 civilians including 9 children and 3 women were killed as a result of suffocation caused by the shelling which destroyed basements of houses as a result of the violence bombardment that stopped about an hour ago on Douma area.

Witnesses on the ground and especially the doctors in the field hospital in east-Ghouta also spoke of suffocation and breathing problems caused by dust clouds after intense aerial bombing and artillery strikes.

On April 16 the U.S. launched a large cruise missile attack against Syria "in retaliation" for the fake gas attack in east-Ghouta. It claimed  that all 105 cruise missiles hit the three intended targets.

SOHR disagreed:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights managed to monitored interception by the regime forces to tens of missiles which targeted their positions and military bases in the Syrian territory, where several intersected sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory, that the number missiles that were downed, exceeded 65 missiles, of the total number of missiles fired by the Trio Coalition ...

SOHR also said that eight targets were attacked but only three received hits. The SOHR report is consistent with witness reports, earlier published U.S. targeting plans and with statements by the Syrian and Russian military.

On May 24 2018 Syrian positions in east Syria near the T-2 pumping station were first attacked by ISIS and then by U.S. airplanes. The U.S. denied to have attacked there.

SOHR disagreed:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned from several reliable sources that the airstrikes that were carried out on sites of the pro-regime gunmen in Desert Deir Ezzor; have caused human losses, where the Syrian Observatory documented the killing of at least 12 pro-regime gunmen of non-Syrian nationalities, as a result of the airstrikes that were carried out by warplanes believed to belong to the International Coalition, which targeted positions of the above-mentioned forces near the 2nd Station “T2”, which is more than 65 km away of al-Bokamal city in Deir Ezzor Desert, while others were injured with varying severity, and the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation.

The Russian, Syrian or Iraqi air force are generally not operating in the east, southwards of the Euphrates. Only U.S. coalition planes are flying there. It is thus very likely that the SOHR report is correct.

Patrick Lang, the former DIA Middle East chief and trained spy, always urges to distinguish between information and its source. A reputable source can give bad information. A source with a bad reputation may nonetheless make correct claims.

There are a few simple rules I use to come nearer to the truth:

  • Every source is biased.
  • One has to compare bits of information from different sources.
  • One must apply logic and reasonability checks to further weed the good from the bad.
  • If a report cites another source go to the original to check if the quote is correct, complete and not out of context.
  • If it does not sound or feel right the information is probably wrong.
  • If an alleged act of a rational entity is against the interest of that entity it probably did not happen.
  • If a claimed behavior of an entity is inconsistent with earlier observed behavior of that entity the claims are likely wrong.

SOHR, despite being an intelligence outlet of a government hostile to Syria, can be regarded as a relatively reliable source. Some of its reports may well be wrong or slandered. It is on us to discriminate them. It should not prevent one from using it.


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Posted by b on May 25, 2018 at 20:20 UTC | Permalink


One other issue is where the SOHR gets its information from and whether the sources the SOHR uses themselves are biased or are sufficiently diverse or impartial enough that there is commonality in the pieces of information they provide to the SOHR.

That the SOHR might receive the bulk of its information from UK military sources may not be sufficient in itself. British military may still provide biased information from a narrow or biased viewpoint. Do we or can we know if the SOHR performs some analysis to determine if its reports represent an accurate view that takes several points of view and opinions into account? The amounts of money and equipment (and the type of equipment) the UK Foreign Office provided to the SOHR recently probably suggest that information analysis and research are not part of the SOHR's function. Otherwise the SOHR could very well wind up being part of the UK's propaganda effort to massage data.

I would also suggest the notion that if information does not "sound" or "feel" right then it's probably wrong should be applied sparingly, and only if you know the situational context in which that information appears, and the players involved, extremely well. Most of us MoA commentators can't really claim to know the situation in Syria all that well, however much some of us seem to boast.

Posted by: Jen | May 25 2018 21:22 utc | 1

Sure, some enemy organizations produce factual products; the CIA Factbook would be one example. The Outlaw US Empire's government is essentially an enemy of everyone on the planet, but many including myself frequent their organizations and use some of their products--The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and its National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, and their products I use daily, and I mostly trust them. It's quite interesting to compare the mostly orderly working so the SOHR versus the Skripal FUBAR.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 25 2018 21:33 utc | 2

SOHR is certainly paid for by the British. Otherwise he couldn't do what he does, even if he's a bit too honest. You can't spend 24 hours a day on the phone to Syria for nothing.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 25 2018 21:58 utc | 3

SOHR is biased, but as b says, there is a fact-based element to its reporting. Unlike bellingcat, it's not completely reporting based on fantasy scenarios. And unlike the New York Times or WaPo it's probably right 50% of the time.

Posted by: worldblee | May 25 2018 22:38 utc | 4

SOHR claims it's information comes from local sources within Syria. Since these sources are likely to be anti-government, there have been some problems with the ways the dead are categorized as civilians/combatants. For instance, I strongly suspect that so far there have been a total of about 50,000 civilian dead rather than the ~100,000 that SOHR claim. The figures for dead women (10,000) and children (15,000) for instance suggest that about 20,000 civilian men have actually died. Among civilians in SAG-controlled West Aleppo the ratio was about two men for every woman while in terrorist-controlled East Aleppo, the ratio was about eight men for every woman which seems high historically.
It's interesting that recently a columnist on the Guardian was talking about the tens of thousands of civilian dead rather than the hundreds of thousands of civilian dead as used by the western MSM in the past. Assuming that the Guardian blames all civilian dead on Assad suggests that the Guardian now reckons the true figure for civilian dead is less than the hundred thousand mentioned by SOHR.
Another area where SOHR figures destroy western MSM propaganda completely is the number of non-Syrian forces fighting on the side of the Syrian government. The SOHR reports that the dead on the government side are overwhelmingly Syrian at about 90% which makes it clear that the number of Hezbollah, IRGC, and Iranian-backed Iraqi, Afghani, etc. militias present are in the order of 10,000 to 20,000. A number of commentators here, who should know better, continue to subscribe to such western propaganda.
Finally, I've seen mention of another problem with SOHR figures related to the number of people tortured or executed in Syrian prisons - the numbers the SOHR quotes (15,000 I believe) couldn't fit into the available prison space and where are the graves. Oh, and please don't mention the State Depts. claims of a crematorium at Sednaya prison.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | May 25 2018 22:51 utc | 5

@5 "SOHR claims it's information comes from local sources within Syria.,.."

IF SOHR had used "local sources", then the large majority of them would have been pro-government all the way through the conflict. This is unquestionably the case as Al Assad repeatedly won elections with more than 60% of the popular vote - including the vote from solid Sunni districts.

SOHR used 'select' local sources and that is the basis for the bias. I believe SOHR did this (using only sources that said what it wanted published) knowingly.

Each time some resolution was in sight SOHR became more neutral in coverage. Each time the West cranked up the attack SOHR did likewise.

If someone is going to use local sources, then views from both sides of the question will be featured. If it is propoganda, then only one side is quoted.

SOHR has a long record of mainly one-sided reporting - in other words propoganda

Posted by: les7 | May 25 2018 23:25 utc | 6

Effective propganda must provide some truths to establish credibility so that the lies will be accepted. The truths are generally matters of not much importance to then, which is not to say of no importance. This is the price that is paid for the more important lies to be swallowed by the consumer of their news.

So yeah, use with caution. You can say that pretty much about every source which is why its hard to see through the fog of lies. There is no true arbitrator of the truth. History and current events are reported by those who rely on institutions/states who have embraced the Noble Lie. The Truth that must be hidden is called Fake. The opposing institutions/states do the same.

No wonder most people tune it all out, or just embrace that which they wish to be true.

Posted by: Pft | May 25 2018 23:58 utc | 7

The first time I remember SOHR reporting a deadly incident that the US denied was the bombing of a mosque in Manbij in Summer, 2016. Eventually, the US admitted to having "accidentally" done it, though I think they never acknowledged how many were killed.

Posted by: Daniel | May 26 2018 0:26 utc | 8

For what it's worth, I've seen many commentators cite SOHR, and often with a disclaimer regarding bias. The facts when true are useful.

Posted by: Grieved | May 26 2018 0:40 utc | 9

IMO SOHR only became 'somewhat' truthful once its backers were forced to recognise that the englander media machine still unquestioningly reprinted its lies but the target, ordinary human beings didn't trust it as far as they could spit it.
At that point the 'editor' was ordered to salt the bullshit with a few facts esp those that would soon be 'out there' regardless of SOHR's counter-tosh.

The site is now far more dangerous than before since there will inevitably come a time after every derp has decided to lap up SOHR ordure once more, that something big is sold to the people, but that is 100% untrue and leads to a much enlarged conflict.
By the time the derps realise they have been sold the dummy it will be too late, the machine will have gathered pace once more and worst of all many more thousands of decent ordinary Syrians will be dead.

Posted by: Debsisdead | May 26 2018 2:20 utc | 10

thanks b... i appreciate you breaking it down here for anyone to see the basis for you use of info from sohr or not.. there is no doubt sohr has been funded by the uk - m16 and etc.. i think everyone is clear on that.. it is interesting though this change up where the msm is not using sohr, especially when it conflicts with the storyline the usa would like to push..

to your bullet point comments - Every source is based. - biased... yes..

Posted by: james | May 26 2018 2:54 utc | 11

Its weird that b has to defend or elaborate on his use of sources. Sources are what they are : Biased. As long as you accept and understand that, there should be no problem using it. The deal is to directly avoid fake- news sites or sites that are inherently posting lies.
Even BBC posts the truth albeit heavily biased or worded in a careful pro government way, they post what they are told to post.
But we are not all wagging sheep tails

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | May 26 2018 3:31 utc | 12

Thanks for the posting about sources b.

It really depends on the context of the information being provided as well as the subject......and civilian/fighter deaths in conflict have historically been subject to misrepresentation by both sides and the middle.

We are i a period of humanity when the supposed bastions of trust in public reporting are being exposed as tools for the status quo and those in charge of maintaining it. Does that mean they never report the truth?, it just means all truth is colored by the sender and receiver to a degree.....and all of us look for "truth" that supports our view of the world.

And we like to share "truths" from sources that support our world view like this latest quote from Reuters about the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia May 25, 2018.....supporting mine....grin....semi OT, eh?
As he sat alongside Putin, Macron referred repeatedly to the need to establish “European financial sovereignty” - a jab at European economies’ reliance on the U.S. financial system.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 26 2018 3:38 utc | 13

Delicious timing for a 'how to' on evaluation of sources, b.
The Dutch 'Inquiry' into the destruction of MH 17 has based its not quite QED conclusions on info cooked up by ... BellingCat.
The rhetorical nature of the 'evidence' is being glossed over/ pushed aside by strident demands for Russia to step up, admit liability, and compensate the families of the victims.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 26 2018 4:33 utc | 14

SOHR is a propaganda outlet, fully paid by the usual suspects. To make propaganda work they spice it up with some factual info. However, 'b is right that it isnt as 100% fake outlet as White helmets, maybe because WH purpose is different, i.e. making false flag CW attacks and providing Hollywood quality fake rescue movies.

That said, I still dont know why SOHR said there was no CW attack in Ghouta, even though it was an important propaganda stunt for US and UK. I very much doubt that SOHR grew consciousness or said F** off to his masters. Maybe simple miscommunication, hadnt received instructions on time.

Posted by: Harry | May 26 2018 4:47 utc | 15

@ Debsisdead | 10

Your description/characterization of SOHR fits the "modified limited hangout" model, IMO-- like Pierre Omidyar's presumably better-funded and more ambitious "Intercept" operation.

Posted by: Ort | May 26 2018 5:20 utc | 16

An excellent piece on Iran's response to Trump and Pompeo:

Posted by: Nader | May 26 2018 6:15 utc | 17

I like this article and how it avoids getting trapped in partisan thinking. People uses all kinds of clues for recognizing good sources and good journalists, and for me this is such a clue. I had a different feeling when the reliability of The Intercept was being discussed, too partisan about being for or against, but maybe I should look that up again. I consider the Intercept valuable despite valid concerns.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | May 26 2018 8:18 utc | 18

Sorry, you can't pick and choose your favourite pieces of a rotten egg. "The casualty count SOHR gave did make sense. The categorization of the numbers did not". Rami spouted numbers, not names. And no named sources. The best use to make of this Muslim Brotherhood-MI5 source is the occasional admissions against interest - i.e. admissions on the part of the 'FSA' jihadists whose flag the SOHR flew, for several years.

Posted by: Tim Anderson | May 26 2018 8:19 utc | 19

This for me is thee most important post/subject. He who controls the news controls the war! With good intentions or bad. The 'truth' has been replaced with personal self-interested agender, most often mistaken and very short term gain long term loss.Sadly this has become 'normal'
Personally I'm hungry for reliable news sites.i dream of a world where news could be rated the same as credit rating,call it credabilty rated!
I know and see how scared they are of the truth. There for, we should share and share good truth sources.
The down side is - they will come under attack 'take it as a complement' !

Posted by: Mark2 | May 26 2018 8:37 utc | 20

I don't know who the usual 'masters' are in this discussion, but I read somewhere that the SOHR gets a grant from the EU, Anyone else heard of this scandalous source of tax payers money?

Posted by: john wilson | May 26 2018 8:59 utc | 21

They are part of a type of warfare where civilians are used as bullets.

Posted by: somebody | May 26 2018 9:18 utc | 22

SOHR an MI6 propaganda outlet MSM does not use if the information does not suit? Seems more than meets the eye here. Why is MI6 putting out info contrary to the MSM narrative? Accurate info at that.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 26 2018 9:23 utc | 23

To add to my above comment - if the rebel force's in Syria had access to sites like moa,in ther own language and could understand that, like Isis there merely being used as a demolition team for the west to come in behind and steal there land and resources and the end result, if they win will be a life in a refugee/concentration camp like there fellow countrymen,they would see the west is not there ally!

Posted by: Mark2 | May 26 2018 9:46 utc | 24

The support of this organisation is a war crime in itself since it is designed as an offensive measure and part of the aggression against the country
It should be entirely discounted as a source of information

Those responsible and accountable from top to bottom should be tried for capital crimes against humanity under Nuremberg Principles and hung.

Posted by: Khalijifars | May 26 2018 9:47 utc | 25

The first thing I do is look at the About & funding pages. Absence of, or very limited info is a massive warning sign.

The FO is also funding an expansion of languages broadcast by the BBC World Service, including the return of the Serbian service.

EU stenographers Euractiv has also rapidly expanded and helps to provide 'news' assistance to various media outlets in the Balkans too. Always follow the money.

Posted by: et Al | May 26 2018 10:25 utc | 26

SOHR is run by a guy from the so-called democratic opposition, the intellectuals who broke with Asad. Never very numerous, they've been swamped since then by the jihadi opposition, both local and foreign - the local element coming from the conservative rural areas. SOHR was then taken up by the British govt as an information front. They have to be paying, as he couldn't do what he does, if he wasn't being financed. He's on the phone 24 hours a day, yes obviously mainly to rebels, but a vast amount of real sourced information passes, even if the picture is skewed. Don't forget that the Brits and the Americans handed out free satellite phones in 2011 and after at $2000 a pop (only to people on their own side of course) so that the rebels could avoid the Syrian internet, and send out the videos freely. SOHR must also pass by the same route, which also tells us who he is talking to.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 26 2018 13:09 utc | 27

It's back to my adage of we take ammunition where we can find it. Sometimes even the NYT and MSM let the truth sneak through. Maybe the SOHR is a much lesser version of the White Helmets who are more of a govt propaganda/psyop.

Laguerre 27
Looking back, one can see the media/TPTB have done the same with other events like Libya. After using some useful protest feelings, they infiltrate more militant forces, and then escalate with the main islamist fighters.

Posted by: Curtis | May 26 2018 14:29 utc | 28

The USA ' black lives matter'campaign has the phrase ' no justice no peace' . I think that's true ! Good truth news sites with no agenda would bring justice for all of us world wide and then peace.

Posted by: Mark2 | May 26 2018 14:48 utc | 29

I suspect that some SOHR sources are in SAA or working with at least tacit permission of Damascus authorities. How they could get the info about the events in a military facility, T2, that is in the desert?

One scenario is that British government either has more than one group of its "deep state", or that they are prepared to have divergent policy with USA. And Syrian government may benefit when it happens, so at the very least, it does not arrest SOHR informers. A profound interest of most European government that have Syrian refugees is the ability to deport them back, at the very least those who break some laws, but one day, on a larger scale. For that they would have to label Syrian government more mildly than now. The "misclassification" of rebel combatants as civilians point to that. A purely pro-war propaganda would not mention that there is any weird classification, but if you want to have an option to change the totals, this is a "superb" approach.

Observe the ongoing divergence of European and American interest on Iran deal and new American sanctions, and also issues with sanctions on Russia. European state feel a need to have an independent option, even if they do not exercise it.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 26 2018 15:04 utc | 30

@31 'Observe the ongoing divergence of European and American interest on Iran...'

Which means a serious attack on Iran is becoming less and less likely. Hard to see the UN approving it. Certainly it won't be easy to form a coalition of the willing. Not saying they can't just do it anyway but US and Israel will be the only participants.

Posted by: dh | May 26 2018 15:25 utc | 31

@12 Den Lille Abe.. i agree it is a bit weird, but look at some of the responses to b's post.. they are even weirder! see @25 Khalijifars for an example..

@14 Hoarsewhisperer.. excellent example that really gives clarity to b's post.. dutch intel are quite happy to run with bellingcats biased position.. they accept bellingcats position without answering a number of outstanding questions.. they want to frame russia and they run with cheap biased info... voila!

Posted by: james | May 26 2018 15:51 utc | 32

Firts, the SOHR reports are extremely badly written. They seem to ignore the existence of comma and point in a sentence. It is is probably because they are badly translated from arabic. That makes me doubt that the UK is seriously involved in the day to day work of the SOHR.
In the last few months there is a perceptible change of tone in the SOHR and it is less negative toward the SAA and Bashar al Assad. This is why it is much less quoted by the MSM.
Is it because the victory of the 'regime' is so obvious that any source claiming the opposite is bound to look suspicious.
In addition the SOHR whose pro-rebel propaganda was so intense, is now realising that the 'pure revolution' had been hijacked by foreign powers and that ultimately a victory of Syrians over the invaders iss what counts now, whoever is leading them.

Posted by: Virgile | May 26 2018 16:48 utc | 33

I'm with you on that one virgile 34
We're all fed up with the devide and rule game! We all just want to go home and raise are kids in peace. Except the list of people who make money from war.

Posted by: Mark2 | May 26 2018 17:05 utc | 34

If we support the argument in the article, then it would be like UK press quoting its figures from German radio station funded by the the Nazi Gestapo in WWII.Is that OK?

Posted by: ost | May 26 2018 18:15 utc | 35

Ost 36
False comparison. End of discussion .

Posted by: Mark2 | May 26 2018 18:36 utc | 36

One key to successful “perception management” is that the source must be trusted by the target audience. For years, the Official Story on Syria was so universally reported that SOHR reports went unquestioned in the West, except by a handful of alternative investigators/journalists/sites. Mostly, they could get away with most any claim.

But that has changed, especially since the tide clearly turned. As I noted above, the first time I saw SOHR report something seemingly at odds with the Empire was in 2016 (“coincidentally,” about the same time that Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek “saw the light.”)

By presenting some information that casts an unfavorable light on the AZ Empire’s actions, and having MSM respond with criticism of SOHR, and distancing themselves from it, SOHR’s “street cred” is raised.

Note that SOHR is NOT revealing any information that fundamentally disagrees with the Official Story. Like Q-anon, SOHR appears to challenge “TPTB,” but does not molest the Big Lie.

BTW: for any MoA barfiles sucked into the Q thing , check out this thread (Sorry, y'all will have to scroll to the top):

Posted by: Daniel | May 27 2018 2:39 utc | 37

As for its casualty reports, we heard the death count rise astronomically from 2013 to 2016. It jumped to 1/4 million. Then 300,000. And soon, 1/2 million. But, the death count stayed put for the best part of two years, even as the actual militarized fighting increased! Now, as b notes, some are even reporting the death count as lower than they did 2 years ago!

PBS had it at almost 1/2 million at the start of 2016.

At least one pro-“opposition” source still reports over 1/2 million.

My favorite source for accurate information (NOT), Wikipedia has it at 353,935. And remarkably, they report the death totals dropping year after year since Russia overtly intervened militarily!

They would have us believe that once large numbers of tanks and artillery pieces, combined with aerial bombing was literally leveling entire neighborhoods, the death toll dropped precipitously.

Posted by: Daniel | May 27 2018 2:48 utc | 38

So here is a link from ZH about some Orwellian behavior in the UK

Tommy Robinson Arrested Outside UK Court, Jailed For 13 Months As Judge Orders Orwellian Media Blackout

It seems that the UK is having some trouble controlling the narrative. Maybe they need to schedule more royal weddings.....

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 27 2018 4:42 utc | 39

psychohistorian 39
Royal weddings should work. Seems to work in this antipode.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 27 2018 7:51 utc | 40

@ 39 psychohistorian.. wow... i knew things were bad in the uk, but it is getting really scary... i guess scl is not able to control the narrative and no amount of royal bullshit is helping... reading craig murray regularly is also casting a very dark light on the uk... i guess canada can't be far behind...

Posted by: james | May 27 2018 16:41 utc | 41

i only wish more people would understand this.

Posted by: Per/Norway | May 29 2018 22:49 utc | 42

Very good piece. I like to use SOHR sometimes too, for quite similar reasons. I have followed some time the information given by various sources about the frontline, and SOHR was here clearly the most accurate source from the jihadist side.

I also like to use the numbers given. Of course, there is the (openly acknowledged) distortion that all jihadists who have not been defected Syrian soldiers are counted as civilians. But one can use their numbers to get a good estimate about the real civilian victims. The point is that they give numbers about "killed by air and artillery bombings x civilians, among them y women and z children". But do bombs and artillery have gender preferences? If they hit civilians, they kill them gender-independent, and there are, plausibly, less, not more, male civilians than female civilians. So, there will be at most 2 y + z real civilians among the x "civilians".

The situation with the children are less clear, among them will be clearly a long of male youth who are, quite traditional in these areas, fighters, especially among informal gangs like the jihadists, but how much? There is no base for good estimates.

Nonetheless, the numbers given are so that even if one counts all "children" as real children, there are consistently more jihadist fighters killed than civilians: x - (2y+z) > (2y+z). This is very good news. Because in general, there are more civilians dying than fighters from both sides.

In general, I think that behind SOHR is some secret service, (probably British, but it does not really matter which), so they have accurate information, and all depends on their policy if they want to publish truth or distortion. A reasonable policy is "if lies can be easily detected, publish the truth", and SOHR seems to follow such a policy. So, I would never trust it if something could be used in anti-Russian propaganda and would be hard to be identified as a lie if it would be a lie. But whenever lies could be easily identified after a short time, SOHR seems quite reliable.

Posted by: Max | Jun 4 2018 13:56 utc | 43

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