SAMS on demand

SAMS on demand | Русская весна

The Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS) is a structure that is much more important to the Syrian conflict than the notorious White Helmets.

However, on the public front of the information war, the guys from SAMS, whose slogan — To Save Syrian Lives — came out only recently from the shadows of courageous YouTube heroes with the inscriptions on their jackets «Syrian Civil Defense» («Syrian Civil Defense»).

This was due to the spring-summer escalation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which ended with the defeat of the militants by the government forces and the liberation of the territory of the so-called El-Lataminah in the northern province of Hama and the city of Khan Sheikhoun.

According to the Syrian command, confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Defence, «Hayat Tahrir al-Sham» («Jabhat al-Nusra») and its allied groups regularly fired cannons and MLRS at the vicinity of the provincial centre, killing civilians and soldiers and causing material damage. The militants however had a slightly different version: they valiantly defended free land from the threat of Assad's invasion.

Anyway, according to the memorandum signed in the Russian city of Sochi on September 17, 2018 within the framework of the memorandum recognized by both the opposition and the Syrian authorities in the Astana format, the entire area occupied last summer by the Syrian troops up to Khan Sheikhoun was part of the demilitarized zone, in which there should have been no heavy weapons. This was a condition for the government troops not to conduct offensive actions, with the support of Russian Air Force.

Well, it was a logical condition — contact line of the illegal armed groups with the government forces was three to five kilometers from the densely populated cities (Hama, Scalbiya, Mkharda, etc.). The Sochi memorandum, like all other declarations within the Astana process, contained a passage on the commitment of all participants in the fight against terrorism and specifically with «Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham».

In practice, «HTS» took control of the entire Idlib de-escalation zone, subordinated or expelled other groups, and established the» Al-Fatah al-Mubin» Operational Command (one of the possible options for the transfer is «overt conquest») to operate in the same demilitarized zone north of the city of Hama, «National Liberation Front» («Jabhat Wataniya Li Tahrir»), which unites formations under the control of the Turks (i.e. Islamists of varying degrees of radicality), also joined the terrorists.

In June, by the way, the «NLF» announced that it was using heavy weapons in the demilitarized zone, including those received from the Turkish side. It is worth paying tribute to Russian diplomacy, which did not pierce Turkey's eyes with such a beam.

However, there are reasons for what Putin called a «local operation against terrorists».

Typically, until April and May this year, only one party, the Syrian Government, complained of civilian casualties as a result of enemy fire. Militants and their patrons started talking about civilian casualties only after aviation began to strike targets in the Idlib de-escalation zone. However, unlike the Syrian authorities, which published lists of casualties and showed photos and videos of their funerals from time to time, «HTS», «White Helmets» and Western diplomats preferred to voice abstract figures with three zeros.

Or to post dubious clips on Youtube, which we will return to. The story of the El Hal market (i.e. veggie market), allegedly bombed by Russian aviation in Maaret An-Nuaman, was perhaps the most revealing in terms of unsolicited accusations of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets. Colonel General Rudskoy, the head of the Russian General Staff's Main Operational Directorate, presented to journalists during his briefing a video from this market, which shows that it has not been hit in any way and is functioning quietly.

In general, this time «White Helmets» had nothing to say on the front line of the information front.

Besides, a certain part of the «White Helmets» has uneasy relations with «Jabhat Al-Nusra». The number of «White Helmets» killed under unclear circumstances like it was in Idlib over the past year (i.e., since the establishment of control of the HTSh) was unprecedented in the five-year history of this «Civil Defense».

So, when the U.S. State Department decided to refer to reports from the village of Kbana in the mountainous Latakia about the possible use of chlorine by government troops (May 19, this year), «White Helmets» first responded to media inquiries: «There's „Nusra” and no one else. We do not know what was or was not there». A day later, however, they came to their senses and started talking about the threat of «chemical genocide» from the «regime».

As a result, the stakes were made on the topic of attacks on doctors and medical facilities.

The approach is the same as with «White Helmets» — if SAMS claims that such strikes were carried out, then it is so.

Why SAMS? Because it is a very respected and authoritative organization. As David Lilly, Executive Director of SAMS programs, told American congressmen on June 25, 2019 (, there were 35 stationary and mobile stations in the Idlib deescalation zone, employing 2,000 people.

And David Lilly is not some «White Helmets» leader, Ramadan Saleh, who was banned from entering the United States because of suspicions of ties to al-Qaeda. Mr. Lilly, like other leading managers of SAMS, is a former USAID senior official, i.e. the United States Foundation (Agency for International Development), who is practically a U.S. civil servant.

SAMS was established in the U.S. in 2011 by a pediatrician, gynecologist and neurologist of Syrian origin, who shared political views opposing the «Assad regime» (formally, they revived the pre-existing emigrant organization, which was reflected in the emblem of SAMS (https://s3.

And in 2013, the budget of the society rocketed at the expense of the USAID infusions and began to be counted in millions. The leadership positions were taken by professionals from the State Department, and a network of offices was opened in all states, through which they began to register medical professionals to work in Syria and neighboring countries. Filters are in place — people should be able to keep their mouths shut, so these personnel are mostly equipped with unique medical PMCs, including many natives of Arab countries, as well as military doctors.

These people are also helping civilians, including Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as residents of militant-controlled areas. The opportunity to receive quality health care is a win-win situation in terms of loyalty.

This is also true of the militants. While medicine (or rather, health care) of the Syrian Arab Republic is being killed by targeted sanctions, in an area currently dominated by terrorists from the «HTS», SAMS and other relief organizations have deployed a network of medical assistance based on hospitals, mobile units and field hospitals. And the population is receiving this care more as long as it is because the main addressee is an insurgent. It's a little easier to dare to fight when you know you can count on top-notch modern treatment in case of injury, including rehabilitation in Turkey or Europe, if necessary.

It is rumored that the Syrian military simply gasped when they entered the underground SAMS hospital next door to the headquarters and communications center of the «Jaysh al-Izza» group in half the artificial caves between El-Latamnah and Kafr Zaytah.

Although the militants have removed everything they could from there, there was still enough evidence of how well they have been treated here.

Here, of course, we can ask ourselves the question — what kind of contingent receives assistance in such hospitals with the money of the State Department? «Jaysh al-Izza» illegal armed group used to be a member of «Syrian Free Army», but recently it has been subordinate to the «Idlib Military Council», which is chaired personally by «HTS» chief of staff Abu Muhammad al-Julani.

In fact, in previous years, «Jaysh al-Izza» membership in the FSA did not prevent them from cutting the heads of captive Syrian soldiers and posting it on social networks.

And the commanders of this group did not hesitate to call for jihad, considering this word as synonymous with the revolution. 

In the West, such «opposition» is referred to as «Sunni insurgents», and the fact that they interact with «HTS», the «Islamic Party of Turkestan» or, for example, the group «Ansar al-Tauheed», which pledged allegiance to «Al-Qaeda», is not considered an excuse to justify counterterrorist operations in a region with a population of three million people (see interview with the U.S. Special Representative for the Middle East

David Lilly in his speech in front of the members of the U.S. Congress also put forward the thesis: in the territories controlled by the HTS and other extremists, SAMS acts to take care of peaceful Syrians, so as not to leave them alone with the radicals. 

Therefore, the kidnapping and killing of local medical workers by SAMS terrorists is also tolerated solely to keep the opportunity to take care of civilians. However, no one touches the employees of SAMS itself. After all, they are unlikely to remove a wounded militant from the operating table in order to save the child. Moreover, in some places, as in the same underground hospital between El Latamnah and Kafer Zayta, they do not help anyone but militants.

By the way, it's funny enough that David Lilly spoke about the inadmissibility of military operations against terrorists in civilian areas to U.S. congressmen. The Americans and their international coalition, the presence of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mosul in Iraq and tens of thousands in Raqqa in Syria, did not stop them from bombing those cities into dust. Along with the inhabitants.

And Lilly's words that the extreme aggravation of the situation provoked the exodus of 500 thousand Syrians to the Turkish border should be interpreted somewhat differently than it is now common in the Western media. 

No facts of massive bombardment of settlements, neither Lilly, nor anyone else could show, in the demilitarized zone in the north of Hama there was practically no population, from Khan Sheikhun left together with the militants of thousands of twenty — from where did they want to leave the zone of de-escalation of 500 thousand people? 

It is very simple — they wanted to use an excuse and try to get to Turkey, and there, if anyone is lucky, then to Europe. It is not a paradise to live under the «HTS», no matter what you say. The schools teach Wahhabism with the money of the European Union, for anybody's money one has to pay the fees to field commanders, and the civil authorities are the same Islamists that the West and Turkey are now trying to legalize.

It is unrealistic to get to Turkey in a peaceful environment. Only those who are elected and for a lot of money, as the border crossing is the very thing that the «HTS» controls, and along the border the Turks have built barriers filled with eclectronics. Turkish gendarmes and border guards do not hesitate to open to defeat, regardless of the sex and age of the violators.

But let's return to the SAMS infrastructure in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which was allegedly attacked by the Russian and Syrian air forces and became a reason for proceedings at the UN.

In addition to pre-war medical facilities, SAMS also uses mobile units, tents and various buildings converted into medical facilities. 

The problem is that such «medical facilities» are rarely equipped with any identification mark. Even on motor vehicles, a small abbreviation may at best be displayed somewhere on the side. And this is called an ambulance.

In July, SAMS accused a Russian warplane of hitting one of these in the area of Khan Sheikhun city, presenting as evidence a video with either an explosion or a blast of a Minivan-type car. 

How could pilot understand that it was an ambulance, not a transport of militants, remains a mystery. In another case, SAMS presented a photo of a real ambulance allegedly destroyed by an air strike with two paramedics inside. 

But the car in the photo clearly hit the wreckage of the building after its destruction, as there is no dust on it. As well as blood is not visible anywhere. The photo, in general, looks like a staged one and the circumstances of SAMS local employees' death, if they really died, remain unclear.

However, the much more significant events of the Syrian conflict, to which Hamas had a direct bearing, also remain unclear.

For example, it was the Syrian American Medical Society that brought to its Al-Amal Hospital in the Turkish city of Reikhanli people who allegedly became victims of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017. There are many questions in this regard, including those of Western experts 

Thanks to the work of SAMS, the U.S. got an opportunity to carry out a missile strike against Syria at that time. Next time a group of SAMS medical workers from Deraa province in the south of Syria, from the territory that was then a part of the Southern de-escalation zone, brought some samples to Jordan in April 2018, allegedly from East Guta, which gave reason to the Americans to claim evidence (which have not been presented) of the use of toxic substances by the Syrian army and to strike Syria for the second time with a missile strike.

So the «order» on the information front for SAMS may be the blackest one…

P.S. The reference to the photo of one of the SAMS leaders at the demonstration in support of the war with Iran is taken from the article by Max Blumenthal in 2018 from the website GreyZone

By – translated by “Russian Spring”

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