High-Tech Trickery in Homs?

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can believe whom you will but… I go along with history.  Who benefits?

And, who has done what and employed what tactics in what appear to be similar circumstances  involving  overthrow,  destruction of governments, and regime changes, car bombings, assassinations, in so many other countries the past three or four decades?

Nothing, absolutely nothing, which the US Government has released as “public information” in the past 15 years seems to have contained very much fact or truth. 

I see nothing in Ambassador Ford’s words, nor find reason anywhere else, particularly not in US Mainstream News reporting to believe that anything has changed in the US Public Information policies.

“When America wages war or plans it, major media scoundrels cheerlead in lockstep. Incendiary managed news follows. Truth and full disclosure lose out.”

 As a result, readers and viewers are uninformed. 

Believe whom you will. Only a gullible fool will believe a proven liar!

by Sharmine Narwani


Ambassador Robert Ford

What was surely meant to be a clever display of media-friendly visuals to illustrate Syrian regime violence in Homs, has instead raised more questions than answers.

US State Department satellite images of the embattled city were posted on Facebook last Friday by US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who complains: “A terrible and tragic development in Syria is the use of heavy weaponry by the Assad regime against residential neighborhoods.”

The “satellite photos,” says Ford, “have captured both the carnage and those causing it — the artillery is clearly there, it is clearly bombing entire neighborhoods…We are intent on exposing the regime’s brutal tactics for the world to see.”

But within 24 hours, the blog Moon of Alabama had taken a hammer to the ambassador’s claims. A detailed examination of satellite imagery by the bloggers revealed numerous discrepancies in Washington’s allegations. Mainly, their investigations point to the fact that Ford’s satellite images were “of guns training within military barracks or well known training areas and not in active deployment.”

Moon of Alabama posts its own satellite images, graphics and diagrams to bolster its argument – and these are well worth a look.

The US envoy’s questionable claims don’t stop at satellite images, however. In his Facebook post, Ford insists: “There is no evidence that the opposition — even those opposition members who have defected from the military — has access to or has employed such heavy weapons. “ By this, he means the “artillery” used “to pound civilian apartment buildings and homes from a distance.”

Then why is there satellite photo evidence of destruction in pro-regime Alawi areas?

Fast-forward to CNN’s very own Jonathan King, who broadcast satellite images of Homs on February 9, the day before the State Department loaded their photos on the web. King’s images of Homs are dated February 5, two days after violence erupted in the city, focusing heavily in the Baba Amr neighborhood where opposition gunmen are allegedly present:


King’s presentation of “shelling, fires and damage” to Homs shows destruction of property consistent with the use of heavy weapons: “It’s like a ghost town – with no cars at all, there’s damage in the roads and so much damage on the top of the buildings.”

Zooming in on three different sections of the same Homs neighborhood to show before-and-after images of the destruction, King says: “Now obviously, we’re not there, but this powerful satellite imagery tends to support the accounts from activists that there’s a lot of shelling and fighting going on in the city, and a lot of fires.”

There is only one problem with his account. Most of the alleged fighting, shelling, destruction and killing reported widely in the international media took place in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, southwest of the city, and an anti-regime stronghold.

But all three satellite images shown by King are in al-Zahra neighborhood, a pro-regime area consisting mainly of Alawis, who belong to the same Muslim minority sect as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

That is a stunning revelation. Pro-regime civilians in Homs and other Syrian areas have complained of attacks, kidnappings and killings by armed opposition groups for months now, with little attention received by foreign media.

And it completely undermines Ford’s contention that: “There is no evidence that the opposition…has access to or has employed such heavy weapons. “

Let’s look at some screenshots from CNN’s presentation and compare it to screenshots taken from Google Maps. The first visual is of King pointing to the three highlighted areas of destruction in Homs:

CNN’s satellite images have been turned 90 degrees clockwise in their own presentation of the photos, so in this next screenshot, we have shifted their visuals so that they are north facing – to help with comparison to our pictures in a normal north-south format. This will also make things easier for those readers compelled to rush out and conduct their own web search on the area.

Zooming into one highlighted area of destruction, you can see that the two photos – CNN’s and ours – are an exact match. To the north of the horizontal road is a lot marked by a large tree to its left. South of that same road, buildings are positioned at a distinct diagonal angle. This area is inside Homs’ al-Zahra neighborhood.

This next screenshot zooms out so that you can see the placement of CNN’s three areas of damage – all clearly within al-Zahra, which is marked by a red circle. In the bottom left hand corner of the shot is a circular area that we included as a marker to help readers distinguish al-Zahra’s location in proximity to other areas in Homs. This is where the Citadel of Homs is located.

The final screenshot is of Homs from a distance so that it is possible to view the distance between Baba Amr (circled in blue) to the left of the picture, and al-Zahra, to the right. The Citadel in the previous shot is between the two neighborhoods.

An image is no longer worth a thousand words

Photos and video footage showing scenes of violence have been streaming out of Homs since reports of heavy fighting first broke on February 3. It is hard to glean much from these because there is not enough information in the visuals to confirm the source of gunfire or shelling. The satellite images posted by the State Department on February 6 – according to the Moon of Alabama blog – do not actually show the Syrian army engaged in battle, as suggested by Ambassador Ford when he claims:

“Satellite photos have captured both the carnage and those causing it — the artillery is clearly there, it is clearly bombing entire neighborhoods.”

But his statement about armed opposition groups not having the weaponry to fight from afar is now questionable given the CNN shots of damaged buildings and “burn craters” in the road – yet even this is not conclusive.

If you don’t believe an image any longer, what do you do about this kind of allegation by Ford? One of the few videos I find credible – and that, only because in it we see the death of an actual “known” person that has not been contested – is this footage of Gilles Jacquier (warning: graphic images contained), the France 2 cameraman killed while participating in a government-sponsored tour of Homs. Jacquier was killed in the pro-regime neighborhood of Akrama, home mainly to a mix of Alawis and Christians who originally migrated from rural areas. Pro-opposition journalist Omar Idilbi had once dubbed this area “the castle of the regime.”

When allegations flew left and right about the source of the projectile that killed Jacquier and reportedly eight others that day, the Arab League monitors on the ground in Syria investigated and concluded: “mission reports from Homs indicate that the French journalist was killed by opposition mortar shells.”

Syria has destroyed for me all faith in the images I once trusted. People on both sides of this conflict are manipulating visual media to propagandize toward their political goals. The problem with this is that many genuine documented stories are now disregarded because of the skepticism of readers like myself.

Governments and media should be taken to task for their complicity in the dissemination of false information. There are lives at stake, after all – the very lives that fuel their pitiful “outrage.”

Many thanks to Adel Alsalman for the screenshots.

Source: Al Akhbar English http://english.al-akhbar.com/

Editing: Debbie Menon

Sharmine Narwani is a writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. She has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in both journalism and Mideast studies.You can follow her on twitter @snarwani.and Room for Debate

Also see:

Syria is Not Tunisia or Libya

The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT, VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, technicians, or the Veterans Today Network and its assigns. LEGAL NOTICE - COMMENT POLICY

Posted by on February 16, 2012, With Reads Filed under Veterans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

22 Responses to "High-Tech Trickery in Homs?"

  1. Debbie Menon  February 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    …this is whats happening…. this veteran is a true patriot
    former U.S. Army and CIA officer Ray McGovern was violently ejected from the audience and arrested after he stood up and turned his back in a silent protest of America’s foreign policy

    Ray McGovern Assaulted for Silent Protest at Hilary Clinton Speech.

    Barbara Walters in Syria:

    John Simpson in Syria:

    Charlie Rose in Syria:

  2. Debbie Menon  February 18, 2012 at 4:07 am

    “I sent this article to every elected official along with my opinion and accusations of wrong if not illegal doings.I know full well that the intended recipients will never see anything but the recap sheet with a pencil mark for my opinions but at least I am trying.It takes more than just reading a news story and talking about it on the web although I am sure that there are official agencies that keep a close tab on the content of VT.”

    Thanks Lawrence. Most VT contributors are hard working, unpaid writers, who burn the midnight lamp researching to bring us these analysis. The best a reader can do to help them help us is to help disseminate their work. Thanks again.

  3. Derek X  February 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Thanks Debbie, you made my day. I was expecting a different kind of comment from Jim, and instead found yours. It’s nice when that happens. 🙂

  4. Charlotte NC Bill  February 17, 2012 at 2:15 am

    The Arab League has been turned into a toothless asset of the Anglo-american Zionist cabal..They sat and watched the Americans lie about Iraq and then proceed to destroy it for almost no damn reason -except the people who own our country wanted it destroyed..

  5. Debbie Menon  February 17, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Thanks Derek for appreciating this post. A great many oafs who don’t know, care or have much interest in Homs or even know where it is are not worth our time. The whole world watch aghast the USG and Media on a lying and killing spree and the sheep are not in the least embarrassed.

    A Comic Farce being played on the World Stage for an audience of Ignorant Dunces.

    The entire production seems to suffer from cheap and inadequate actors!

  6. dirtus napus  February 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Let me help you from some experience. I don’t need a sat. to tell me the color of what an arti strike looks like. Go back and look at the initial evidence, see that white smoke? Yeah, that’s not from arti. After a while it turns darker doesn’t it? That’s what whiskey pete does, it burns other things after a while? Yeah. Planted. Notice there are no pictures of crews celebrating? Yeah? NO arti pieces anywhere actually!? Yeah.

    By the way, don’t let Gordon see this article. He’d have to turn his brain off again after the excellent coverage of the reality he gave us in Lybia…yeah. Funny how military experts forget about the obvious when they need to….yeah. But you didn’t show the actual lies. Let me see you actually go Colombo, let me see you talk about arti batteries shelling anything in Syria. Go back and watch footage, PLEASE. Got any actual mortar barrages? Recoiless stuff? Wonder why it’s HOMS, and not Damascus? Closer to Beirut. Can’t control things in the Capital, just like Lybia. Starts on the borders, not the center. Amazing isn’t it?

    Where did Rita Katz go” Ohhhhh, we figured that out. That dog doesn’t hunt so much anymore…. Show the really funny stuff for once? Like guys carrying FN-FALS (brand new) that liberated them from Qaddafi. All the new US and Israeli equipment that was liberated from caches from Qaddafi. Yeah, he didn’t have any of those weapons in his caches. NOT ONE. Fuuny how he had 20,000 Mpads he just decided not to use on NATO aircraft, that was a hoot. I guess some accountant can write off those 20k and america can remain blameless after Al Queda uses them somewhere. Just like the trillions at the pentagon.

    Satellite imagery, christ…..Well done…..

  7. lawrencedickerson  February 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    This Op-Ed is the best in your face example of how black propaganda is being used every day to support agendas that are never in the best interests of the citizens.If I had the ability I would submit this to every media news source and mandate it’s presentation to demonstrate how governments lie.

    There is no doubt that this information can’t be extrapolated to every major and some even minor events that occur .The Gulf War,Viet Nam,Afghanistan,9-11 and now Iran to mention the most recent examples are all because of false reporting of those events to get us involved in promoting war.

    When is it going to stop?Never is the answer but if We The People become more informed and vocal we can surely force some attention to those affairs that are in the good old USA’s interest rather than some corporate or financial entities.

    I sent this article to every elected official along with my opinion and accusations of wrong if not illegal doings.I know full well that the intended recipients will never see anything but the recap sheet with a pencil mark for my opinions but at least I am trying.It takes more than just reading a news story and talking about it on the web although I am sure that there are official agencies that keep a close tab on the content of VT.

  8. Derek X  February 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    What would you prefer, Ken? Laying waste to everything to make things better, as they did in Libya? I would think that that is the last thing them, we, or this world needs. Sorry.

  9. Derek X  February 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I’m sure they do care, all writers do even if they say they don’t. Perhaps I do make myself look small, and that is probably because I am. But I write that because I witnessed Jim Fetzer censor all the comments of another user, comments that I at least thought were interesting showing another side of the story. I didn’t beleive one side or the other, but it was interesting to get other perspectives, which I had thought was the purpose of this publication. As it is often said, the comments can at times be more interesting than the article.
    So what I was saying, more clearly, is that this article is a also a good article, and if you continue to put this quality material out, your site will have a chance to really shine, even if some of your contributors censor that which goes against their positions, just like the main-stream media likes to do. And isn’t that what another good article is saying about ambassador ford, the US media, israel, and syria?
    So, I think you may be assuming to know what my opinion really is, and although it can be critical, it is USUALLY positive. And in that I do not think I am the only one that shares that opinion. You are a writer, you should be used it.
    We can’t always be be cheering and throwing confetti. You’d get bored of that after a while. What would be the fun in that?
    And if it makes me look small, so be it. Small ax chops down big trees.

  10. Debbie Menon  February 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Has it been this way all through the ages? Were there always shadow-government conspirators who tried to control the message and turn black into white?—so that ignorant boys would go to war for “god and country”?

    Watch this dangerous old fool former Mossad Chief talk about how Iran is a “threat” that must be dealt with, and Iran’s friends are also a threat—that anyone in fact who stands in the way is fair game.


    Talk of a human catastrophe!

  11. Jim W. Dean  February 16, 2012 at 11:59 am

    When I first started reading this I was thinking that these could be bad shots…falling short or over, which goes with the territory if you are not using smart munitions. But the distance to this other neighborhood eliminate that.

    And I would add that mortars, if that is all that fell there, are not generally considered heavy weapons as the infantry one pack the punch of a bit more than an RPG rocket.

    After the pounding the rebel area has gotten from the Syrian heavy artillery (not the mortars) it is not surprise that if someone from there had a mortar that they would fire some shots in retaliation. We have had many many reports that not everybody loves each other over there.

    The artillery was a huge mistake by Assad anyway. He could have blockaided the concerned neighborhoods and not gotten 90% of the flack that he has. Even if he survives, he is a dead man walking now…and he didn’t have to be.

  12. Jim W. Dean  February 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Derek, Your opinion of VT is an extremely minority one…and you were welcome to it. But I can assure you no one here, when they sit down to write their articles today cares about what detractor, anonymous, and no idea where they are coming from thinks about their material.

    We are not a website where ideologues come for their daily fix…of pre-screened material to make them happy. You make yourself look small with a comment like this. And most of our readers are not, I can assure you.

  13. Ken Smith  February 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

    High-Tech Trickery in Homs? Have you been watching any of the media from Arab news outlets? You’re trying to tell me that 5,000 plus Syrians who have been reported slaughted are not? Please, don’t insult the memory of those who have been killed. America is somehow using high tech trickery to convince the world that Assad is killing his own people when he’s not? Are you serious? What kool-aid are you drinking? Please. I hope that the people of Syria can determine their own fate, as the Arab League has been shown to be a toothless version of the UN. Russia has its interests and is allowing this slaughter to continue. At least China is working the Arab capitals trying to help find a solution. But stories about how America is somehow the bad guy here? That dog won’t hunt. Come up with a better conspiracy.

  14. Derek X  February 16, 2012 at 11:09 am

    If VT keeps coming out with things like these, there is a chance for this site yet.

  15. Detlef Reimers  February 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Thanks for this accurate investigation, Mr. Narwani. It’s sad to know, that this kind of debunking the evil defrauding methods of the media does not get into the mainstream, but therefore it’s even more important for us to know.

    I would like to add the a little hint: See the all seeing eye top left of the second video picture? That’s it!

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