Earlier this week, several photos and videos were posted by Syrian Opposition activists that displayed horrifying images of young children in a malnourished state, as a result of the siege imposed by the Syrian Arab Army in the rural Damascus town of Madaya.
In a matter of hours, those same images and videos went viral among several social media networks, sparking outrage all around the world and condemnation from several human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
However, as the civilian plight in Madaya spread across the world, so did old images and falsified narratives that further fueled the sectarian tensions plaguing the Middle East.
Hezbollah, the Main Culprit?
Within minutes, a social media campaign was launched by the Syrian Opposition, accusing Hezbollah of imposing the Madaya siege, despite the fact that most of Hezbollah’s fighters had been transferred back to the Qalamoun Mountains and the Aleppo Governorate.
Syrian Opposition activists accused Hezbollah fighters of planting mines around Madaya’s outskirts, while also blockading the necessary humanitarian aid convoys from reaching their intended destinations.
The narratives never seemed to add up: the civilian population went from 10k to 20k and then to 40k in a matter of minutes
Several pictures of the malnourished children were proven to be a couple years old; yet, this did not stop a number of publications and broadcast networks from sharing them.
Interview with the Syrian Red Crescent:
Al-Masdar News contacted the Syrian Red Crescent to address these allegations presented by the Syrian Opposition.
When asked why civilian aid was not delivered to Madaya, the managing director of the SRC in Damascus stated that in order for them to deliver aid, they must be given the “green light” to do so.
What “green light” were they referring to? The managing director stated the green light refers to the approval given by the parties involved in the ceasefire agreement.
He further explained that all parties must open the roads to the besieged areas and they must comply with the guidelines set forth in the ceasefire agreement.
Why were the civilians not evacuated? The managing director stated that in order for civilians to be evacuated from Madaya, the rebel forces besieging Kafraya and Al-Fou’aa in Idlib must also allow for the civilians to be evacuated – both sides could not agree to this.
The managing director described Madaya, Al-Fou’aa, and Kafraya as a “humanitarian nightmare”.
The August Ceasefire Agreement:
In late August of 2015, an envoy of Iranian delegates met with Turkish officials in Ankara to discuss a potential 6 month long ceasefire in order to allow for the besieged towns of Madaya, Al-Zabadani, Al-Fou’aa, and Kafraya to receive the humanitarian aid they desperately needed.
Both sides would mediate between the forces involved at these battles and agree to the 6 month ceasefire proposal.
A set of guidelines were implemented in order to maintain order while humanitarian aid groups evacuate sick and wounded civilians and combatants from the besieged areas.
Unfortunately, this entire ceasefire agreement was poorly implemented – there were no set dates for humanitarian aid to arrive or even a third party to enforce the guidelines of the ceasefire.
Kafraya and Al-Fou’aa:
While the world condemns the humanitarian crisis in Madaya, the civilians in the two towns of Kafraya and Al-Fou’aa are completely ignored.
Several publications and broadcast networks were quick to post about Madaya, but they completely ignored the brutal siege imposed by the Islamist rebels of Jaysh Al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) on these predominately Shi’I towns in the Idlib Governorate.
Al-Jazeera and Orient TV were two of the first broadcast networks to complain about the siege of Madaya; however, they were also at the frontlines with Jaysh Al-Fateh when they began firing their daily hellfire cannons towards the civilian neighborhoods of Al-Fou’aa and Kafraya.
To make matters worse, the same rebels that Al-Jazeera and Orient TV journalists embedded with in Idlib were also the same terrorists that issued daily threats – predicated on sectarianism – to the civilians in Kafraya and Al-Fou’aa.
Whether you are a supporter of the Syrian Opposition or the Syrian Government; this Madaya campaign has shown a tragic flaw in this war – selective humanity.
Both sides have justified inhuman acts committed against one another, while also complaining about these same atrocities when they are the victims.
Civilians are suffering in Madaya, Kafraya, and Al-Fou’aa; instead of proactively ending the inhumanity, both sides are launching campaigns to condemn one another.