Eva Bartlett sits down for an exclusive interview with the head of the Syrian Arab Army's Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan.
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For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.
For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria's leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.
From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called "unarmed protesters" and later by the "Free Syrian Army." This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a "peaceful revolution" was underway.
Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country's infrastructure.
To give a voice to the often ignored "other side" those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army's Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan's shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett's interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.
Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media's reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels and the events in Syria in general.
General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas especially the fatwas have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization,"everything.
President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.
The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What "army" and what "freedom" are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.
The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad's Brigades or Assad's Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.
I'll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.
They used the term "defection." There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term "defection" is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.
In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa'i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.