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> On Apr 12, 2018, at 8:28 AM, Greg McDonald via Marxism 
> <marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
> Over on social media a prominent Green wrote, in response to my posting the
> article above, that since it is based on reports from white helmets it is
> not a credible objective source. I had my own response to that crap but
> since I’m not up on the white helmets controversy I’m interested in how
> well informed members of this group would respond.


This report sets out fresh evidence of Russia’s campaign to mislead the public 
and undermine democratic institutions around the world. It reveals how the 
Russian government is  conducting a major multi-pronged propaganda campaign to 
spread false information about Syria’s humanitarian workers in an effort to 
cover up its role in some of the most heinous war crimes of our time.

New research shows that bots and trolls linked to Russia have reached an 
estimated 56 million people with tweets attacking Syria’s search and rescue 
organisation, the Syria Civil Defence – also known as the White Helmets – 
during ten key moments of 2016 and 2017.

Many of these smears are linked to efforts to promote false information about 
the sarin chemical attack of April 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, which UN 
investigators concluded were carried out by Russia’s ally, the Syrian 
government of Bashar al-Assad.


The White Helmets are being killed for daring to operate outside the control of 
the Syrian regime and showing the world what is happening in Syria. Two hundred 
and ten volunteers have been killed since 2013 at the time of writing. Their 
centres and teams of volunteers have been hit by missiles, barrel bombs and 
artillery bombardment 238 times in just over 18 months between June 2016 and 
December 2017.

As frontline humanitarians, they are protected by International Humanitarian 
Law. Although they work exclusively in areas outside of government control, 
they have saved lives from all sides of the conflict, including that of 
government soldiers.

False accusations, abusive language and violent threats all chip away at the 
volunteers’ morale. However the vicious smearing of the White Helmets, 
especially false terrorism claims, are designed to undermine the evidence they 
collect and legitimise their killing.

Blogger Vanessa Beeley, at the heart of this Russian-backed disinformation 
campaign, has stated repeatedly in public that these humanitarians can be 
legally killed. “White Helmets are not getting it. We know they are terrorists. 
Makes them a legit target,” she said on Twitter.


The report finds:

• Online smears have received the highest state backing from Russia. Official 
channels RT and news site Sputnik News have repeatedly hosted fringe bloggers 
at the heart of the disinformation campaign, such as Vanessa Beeley

• Russia submitted a report by Beeley entitled “The White Helmets: fact or 
fiction” to the UN Security Council as evidence against the group

• Beeley and some of her followers are part of a cluster of users that tend to 
retweet the same critical content simultaneously – a solid indication of a 
coordinated disinformation campaign

• Fifty percent of the accounts analysed appear in at least one other Russian 
disinformation campaign, while 11 are on a public list of accounts known to be 
controlled by the most famous of Russian troll farms, the Internet Research 

Full 46-page report available for download here: 

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