The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters
The logic of mass murder is perverse: For the US military, the term "militants," which means "enemy justified in killing," includes all males of military age in a strike zone. According to this logic, the US has killed thousands of militants, with drones and other bombing methods, without actual knowledge of who they are. This logic has led the US to declare in 2016, that there were no civilian casualties from drone attacks: not one. Because all those killed were "militants."
Reaper drones = robots without conscience
According to this same logic, the sources of many claims of Syrian atrocities, such as the recent allegations that Syria, against all other logic, dropped "chemical bombs" on the same people it was fighting to liberate from the militants (al-Nustra, in this case, sometimes ISIS), are enemy, since they are military age males in combat zones "in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."
Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. "Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization--innocent neighbors don't hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs," said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.
This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year, John Brennan, Mr. Obama's trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes, according to Glen Greenwald
Militant = any male of military age killed in strike zone.
Strike zone = any area where males of military age are killed.
The strike zone in the Global War on Terror
The same people (variously described as "activists" and White Helmets) who are believed and are forming the justification for military strikes against Syria are, according to the simple logic of counterterrorism officials, are the same people who, if killed by US strikes, would be called "militants."
If those killed by US strikes are called militants and deserving to be killed, then why does the same government, using the same simple logic, consider them reliable sources when, operating in "rebel territory" and with the approval of al-Nustra or ISIS, or other designated terrorist grooups, they give us reports that the US then uses to justify military strikes.
I suggest that you can't have it both ways. Those whose killings are justified by their presence in rebel territory cannot then be taken as credible sources to justify US military action when they send out reports to groups like the Syrian Observatory and others, which not only the government but the media then repeat without challenge.
Either those in rebel territory are enemy militants, and US attacks are "justified" or they are not. They cannot be both militant terrorists AND reliable sources of information. It is simple logic to see that those who are, according to the logic of our counterterrorism policies, considered enemies cannot be taken as credible sources to justify US strikes.