There is nothing humanitarian about this, it is simply child abuse

The White Helmets are ostensibly a humanitarian organisation, carrying out a first responder function throughout war-torn Syria. In fact they function as a branch of al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria), operating only in areas dominated by al Nusra. Many of their humanitarian workers are also photographed in fighting gear, and video footage shows them taking part in the torture of of prisoners. It is questionable whether the White Helmets are anything more than a set of uniforms donned by whoever is to hand for the purposes of propaganda.  It is a powerful comment on the West’s relationship with terrorism that despite, or because of, their identity with al Nusra the White Helmets have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


With the tears evoked by the Omran Daqneesh photo-shoot not yet dry, al Nusra’s White Helmets have staged another dramatic rescue.  The location has moved to Idlib, and the victim is a baby girl, less than a month old according to al Nusra photographer Moaz alShami.

The scenario plays out in much the same way: the baby is pulled from the rubble and carried off to a waiting ambulance – despite their nice uniforms, fine equipment and purportedly extensive experience, White Helmets do not appear to possess stretchers for children.  Again, as with Omran, the baby is not placed carefully on a bed and checked for broken bones.  Instead, she is held most awkwardly by his White Helmet rescuer, who is overcome by the experience.

The baby shows a small cut or wound on the front right of her scalp and there is blood  above the left eyebrow.  Clearly it is not possible to ascertain the extent of the injuries from the video. but the back of her head, or at least the top half, appears to be uninjured.  Ointment is then daubed over the baby’s forehead, with no obvious attempt to focus on the apparent wounds.  The very part of the head that we can see to be uninjured is covered with bandaging.  The man doing the doctoring is wearing a mask, handily covering his chin only, which enables him to raise his head to address the camera and abuse Syrian president Bashar al Assad (I can’t make out whether he mentions barrel bombs).

Baby’s state is considered serious enough to be rushed to hospital, but still not serious enough to warrant the use of stretchers or trolley.  We can now see what might be a graze on her cheek, which has somehow escaped the ointment treatment.  The hero of the hour is then interviewed by Moaz alShami, followed by a piece to camera.

According to alShami, the rescuer says, ‘she could have been my own daughter’.  Maybe she was indeed his daughter, which would explain why she only started crying when she suffered the ‘medical treatment’, though it does not quite explain his awkwardness in holding her.  If the child is not in fact the offspring of any of the al Nusra media team, it is hard not to be concerned about her fate ….

Further information will be available to Arabic speakers, including perhaps an explanation of the whereabouts of the child’s parents, who do not seem to feature and, most curiously, are not mentioned at all by alShami in his facebook post.  Maybe that part of the story is still a work in progress.

It could be that, despite their supposed years of experience, these first responders are just incompetent. However this rescue looks to be totally faked or at best a beat-up, just like the Omran performance. In that case it raises the question: if the Russian and Syrian air forces are ruthlessly and indiscriminately bombing civilians, as we are told, why the need for fakery?  Why aren’t there scores of real victims, seriously injured?

Regardless of this, surely it’s time we said: ‘there is nothing humanitarian about this, it is simply child abuse’.