Syria |Analysis

Fact-checking Carla Ortiz’s claims on White Helmets and Aleppo in Syrian civil war

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Charles Turner

Charles Turner

"Ingrid's source addresses Syrians see..."
Charles Turner

Charles Turner

"Hi Ingrid, I clarified Flaneur's BBC ..."
NB

Nick Bourbaki

"Yes, I emailed her Sunday but she has..."
Charles Turner

Charles Turner

"Indeed. Will switch source to Syria ..."

Carla Ortiz is a Bolivian actress and activist who has dedicated herself to exposing what she calls “the lies” about the Syrian civil war perpetuated by major media outlets. Her main public platform is Twitter, where her 76,000 followers can read her supportive views of the Syrian government and her opposition to the Syria Civil Defense, commonly known as the White Helmets. 

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Ortiz has recently appeared on YouTube, where she shares her long-form footage of Aleppo, once the largest city in Syria. She says she’s traveled to Aleppo three times, and that one visit occurred during the height of the conflict between government-backed forces and rebel groups. Most of her clips were recorded after the government reclaimed the city.

One of the more popular YouTube pages that played her footage was the “Jimmy Dore Show,” which has begun to “debunk” claims made about the Syrian civil war as part of general left-leaning political commentary. Ortiz’s appearance on the Jimmy Dore Show has garnered at least 210,000 views.

In an off-script conversation with Jimmy Dore, Ortiz makes several claims about rebel forces and the White Helmets.

This WikiTribune story is dedicated to fact-checking Ortiz’s footage in Aleppo and her appearance on the “Jimmy Dore Show.”

It’s unclear whether these clips are part of Ortiz’s documentary “Voice of Syria,” which was released last year, according to IMDB. WikiTribune is unable to find the full documentary online. Please link to the documentary if you have access to it. 

Fact-checking Carla Ortiz’s video on Syria

Time : 02:40 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: The United States has provided weapons to groups linked with Al-Qaeda. Ortiz focused on Al Nusra as an example.

Fact check: Likely true. U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D) of Hawaii said on the floor of the House of Representatives that the U.S. government has “directly and indirectly” provided allies and partners of Al-Qaeda and ISIS with aid in the form of money, weapons and intelligence “in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a European Union-funded group, told the Independent that “Iraq and Syria have seen ISIS forces use large numbers of weapons supplied by nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United States, against the various international anti-ISIS coalitions that the two states support.”

CAR’s 2017 study, “Weapons of the Islamic State,” found that most weapons possessed by the Islamic State came from Russia and China. But a “significant source” of IS weapons came indirectly from the United States and Saudi Arabia which purchased the items from Eastern European countries that belong to the European Union. These weapons were then “diverted” to Syrian opposition groups, and ultimately made their way into the hands of ISIS fighters, according to CAR.

The New York Times reported in 2017 that several members of Congress complained that “C.I.A.-supplied weapons had ended up in the hands of a rebel group tied to Al Qaeda.” President Donald J. Trump promptly ended the covert program, which allocated more than $1 billion to arm and train rebel groups, upon CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s recommendation. The same New York Times article said this likely included the Nusra Front, also known as Al-Nusra.

Time: 04:10

Claim:  Syrian army pays its soldiers $50 monthly to fight terrorism. Typical Syrian citizens work 16-18 hours and make $50 dollars. White Helmets or Al Nusra are paid $1,500 a month. 

Fact check: This is likely false. According to Newsweek, White Helmet members receive a $150 monthly stipend. (Add additional sources to this claim.) 

Time: 05:20 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: White Helmets repurposed a middle school in Aleppo as a base.

Fact check: Undetermined. Experts who spoke with WikiTribune have no knowledge of such a base. WikiTribune has reached out to the White Helmets organization for comment. Also reached out to director Orlando von Einsiedel. Include your questions for these sources in TALK. 

Time: 08:40 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: The United States donated roughly $200 million to the White Helmets.

Fact check: Mainly false. The United States dedicated $200 million to Syrian “recovery efforts,” but on March 30 this aid package was frozen by President Trump before it could be fully distributed, according to The Wall Street Journal.  The U.S. State Department told Public Radio International (PRI) that the United States gave the White Helmets $33 million before the Trump administration froze the aid package.

Time: 08:50 (documentary footage)

Claim: The White Helmets have a division that only treats militants, not citizens. 

Fact check: Likely false. The White Helmets have long faced accusations of being partners with extremist groups. The Snopes fact-checking service found these claims to be false in December 2016 and attributed them to unreliable news sources such as 21CenturyWire and Vanessa Beeley.

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Time: 11:50 (documentary footage)

Claim: A Red Crescent treatment center was designated as a “no-fly zone” or safe zone under NATO or the UN. Al Nusra and the White Helmets used this safe zone for protection

Fact Check: Likely false. An anonymous source told WikiTribune that Red Crescent indeed operated a treatment center in rebel-controlled areas of Aleppo. But “NATO is not involved as an entity in Syria,” International Law professor at the University of Notre Dame Mary O’Connell told WikiTribune.

NATO has not been involved in Syria in part because of Turkey’s NATO membership. Turkey and the United States have conflicting views on the Syrian Civil War, specifically the role of U.S.-backed Kurdish militias, which Turkey’s government sees as a terrorist threat (Newsweek). The United States, United Kingdom and now France (as of April 2018) are the Western powers that have intervened militarily in Syria.

“I have no knowledge of any attempt to set up no-fly zones or ‘safe zones’ anywhere in Syria by these NATO members,” said O’Connell, who’s studied the use of force in Syria.

Eliot Higgins from Bellingcat, a reporting project that partly specializes on the Syrian conflict, told WikiTribune he hasn’t seen evidence of “no-fly zones” or “safe zones” established in Aleppo.

WikiTribune has found no evidence of  U.S-backed forces, the Syrian government and United Nations agreeing to no-fly zones over Red Crescent operations. A Red Crescent warehouse was in fact hit with an aerial strike in western Aleppo province in 2016. It’s unclear who was behind the attack.

As part of a humanitarian organization, Red Crescent workers are “protected persons” under international law and are generally given preferable treatment in war zones. An anonymous source told WikiTribune that the Red Crescent receives “security guarantees” from rebel groups and conventional militaries whenever its personnel move supplies or open a new operation in Syria.

Time: 13:10 (documentary footage)

Claim: Rebel forces closed schools in Aleppo and used them as shelters. 

Fact check: Undetermined. Experts who spoke with WikiTribune said they have no knowledge of this happening.

Time: 13:30 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: Al Nusra used a hospital for its main base in Aleppo.

Fact check: Undetermined. The BBC cited The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a UK-based reporting project, that the rebel group Islamic Front, a rebel group took over a building in Aleppo that was once a children’s hospital from the Islamic State. A New York Times journalist and photographer also reported in May 2017 that rebels converted the Aleppo Eye Hospital into their operating base.

We’re still looking for help to determine whether Al Nusra used a hospital in a similar way. 

Time:  18:27 (documentary footage)

Claim: About 800,000 people have returned to Aleppo from neighboring countries and from within Syria.

Fact check: Undetermined. The figure Ortiz cited comes from Sputnik news, a Russian-state media outlet, and is considered unreliable by WikiTribune. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimated that 440,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their homes in Syria, nationwide, between January-June 2017. January 2017 is a significant date because the Syrian government recaptured Aleppo in December 2016.

The same UNHCR report also estimated that from 2015 until June 2017, 230,000 Syrian refugees returned from abroad, mainly from Turkey. So while 800,000 people returning to the city of Aleppo is a high figure, it’s a possible one.

WikiTribune emailed UNHCR for comment on May 21. Include your questions for these experts on TALK.

Time:  26:00 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: Syrians “looking for refugee in Europe” are mainly single men in their twenties and thirties. Ortiz estimates 80 percent are in this category. 

Fact check: Mostly false. Men make up the majority of Syrian asylum seekers entering Europe since 2008, which is when the European Union started to collect data for public use. This general gender imbalance was supported by Geoffrey Mock, a Syrian country specialist for Amnesty International, in an interview with Politifact in a 2015.

But the number of male Syrian asylum seekers has never reached 80 percent. Also, when adjusted for age (18-34 years) the male population has never exceeded the 40th percentile since 2011, according to Eurostat. Only 9,240 Syrians entered Europe in 2011, compared with 383,685 Syrian asylum seekers in 2015.

The asylum statistics of the Member States of the European Union do not cover single events. They reflect the overall situation as follows: In 2015, 38.88 percent of Syrian asylum applicants were men between 18 and 34; by 2016, the percentage was 28.09, by 2017 it was 16.25. In terms of male asylum seekers, regardless of age (including children and elderly): in 2015, 71 percent were men; in 2016, 61.4 percent were men; and in 2017, 52.7 percent were men.

The percentages were calculated on the basis of absolute figures delivered by Eurostat, including the total number of Syrian applicants, and filtered by sex and age.

Time: 31:00 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: Thirty percent of Syrian government ministers are women. The vice president is a woman. The “advisor” to the president is a woman. The “president of the parliament” is a woman. The first female judge in the Middle East was Syrian.

Fact check: Some of these claims are false.

In a 2016 presidential decree, President al-Assad appointed four female ministers out of a total of 34, according to Syrian Arab News Agency, a state-run media outlet. Syria announced it would raise female participation in “decision-making” roles to 30 percent by 2010, but failed to reach this threshold (Freedom House). Only 13 percent of parliament are women (33 of 250) as of April 13, 2016, according to Inter Parliament Union.

Vice President Najah Al-Attar is a woman. It is also true that there is a female presidential advisor; she is Bouthaina Shaaban, a political and media matters adviser to the president.

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Time: 33:00 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: A Syrian law proclaimed a girl must finish high school, or she and father would be sent to prison.

Fact check: Partly true. Parents in Syria could be punished under law if their daughter failed to attend school, according to the United Nations University. This law appears to have been enforced. Syria had a 100 percent attendance rate for primary school and secondary school before the war. More women were enrolled in higher education institutions than men, according to ICEF Monitor, which tracks international students around the world.

Time: 34:00 (Jimmy Dore studio)

Claim: LGBT Syrians are protected by law under the constitution.

Fact check: Inaccurate. Article 520 of the Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality with prison sentences up to three years, according to the Equal Rights Trust, a civil rights group that focuses on gender, sexual orientation and race inequity. ERT states that it’s not known if this law is ever enforced, or if anyone has been convicted under this law.

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United States
Charles Michio Turner is an American journalist who reports on labor, politics and development. In 2016, he reported from Myanmar on the several growing social movements in the country. His goal is to find new ways to include audiences in the new reporting process. Let him know if there's an issue or question that you see as being underreported or poorly reported. Twitter: @charlesmichio

History for stories "Fact-checking Carla Ortiz’s claims on White Helmets and Aleppo in Syrian civil war"

Select two items to compare revisions

23 May 2018

16:49:15, 23 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → clarified syrian observatory link and added NYT link to hospital claim)
15:33:28, 23 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → update callout for questions for white helmets)

22 May 2018

18:53:23, 22 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → update language to reflect 'true' 'false' undetermined')
07:48:30, 22 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Grammar edit)

21 May 2018

21:22:44, 21 May 2018 . .‎ Chuck Thompson (Updated → copyedited update but didn't research facts asserted)
19:42:02, 21 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → white helmets, red crescent update, education law)
08:23:07, 21 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → cleared up language around men syrian asylum seekers, kept Eurostat, removed jihadist language)

20 May 2018

04:25:09, 20 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → claim about jihadis using hospitals as a base)

19 May 2018

01:18:04, 19 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Her claim about 80% of refugees being men)

18 May 2018

20:57:05, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → update CAR study to reflect diverted weapons)
20:45:25, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → approved flaneur edits. moved parliament stat in order to address claim first, then provide context)
19:31:04, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → "minsters" --> "ministers)
19:30:07, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Edited for grammar and clarity wrg to female representation)
10:40:23, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Fiona Apps (Updated → Removing things which aren't empirically provable)
07:20:10, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → Red Crescent no-fly zone claim, changed gender section with help of Flaunder)
03:39:51, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Grammar and spelling)
03:37:32, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → merged)
03:35:29, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → Edit for grammar and spelling)
03:31:43, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Edit for grammar)
03:25:35, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → LGBTQ rights in Syria)
03:14:17, 18 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Gabbard DID mention Al-Nusra (at :32 second mark of the video))

17 May 2018

21:46:37, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → merge)
21:45:38, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → changed Al-Nusra fact check. Took out "jihadist" and cleared up the CAR study, only 3% of weapons)
21:26:29, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → edit for grammar)
21:23:36, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Edit)
21:18:30, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → polls of syrians)
21:04:45, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → merged copies. reformatted fact check on women in politics)
20:29:58, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → SCD monthly stipend)
20:01:25, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → President's advisor edit)
19:56:30, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → grammar and organizational edit)
19:52:42, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → claim of percentage of female ministers)
19:36:57, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Claim by Ortiz of arming Jihadis)
19:35:03, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Nick Bourbaki (Updated → Claim from Ortiz that Jihadists received weapons from the US government)
17:10:32, 17 May 2018 . .‎ Ingrid Strauch (Updated → specified claim about 80 percent refugees)

15 May 2018

22:30:27, 15 May 2018 . .‎ David Barry (Updated → changed wording of a few phrases)

14 May 2018

22:48:23, 14 May 2018 . .‎ Christian Eaton (Updated → Typo "Youtube" to "YouTube" twicetwice)

13 May 2018

12 May 2018

00:15:35, 12 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → fact-checked $200 million claim)

11 May 2018

22:40:14, 11 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → added claims that white helmets used a middle school for their base. fixed time stamp)
22:29:27, 11 May 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → update on carla's visits to aleppo and al nusra using hospital)
15:58:40, 11 May 2018 . .‎ Ingrid Strauch (Updated → added EU asylum statistics)

10 May 2018

16:24:24, 10 May 2018 . .‎ Ingrid Strauch (Updated → added source)
14:05:12, 10 May 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → added buttons)

Talk for Story "Fact-checking Carla Ortiz’s claims on White Helmets and Aleppo in Syrian civil war"

Talk about this Story

  1. Rewrite

    Hi, Charles, as to the “Al Nusra used a hospital”-claim, I’ld like to suggest to name the “Syrian Observatory”, which the BBC uses as source, complementary to the reference to the BBC itself.

    I take this as an example for a general consideration concerning sources for fact checking.

    I think we should refere to primary sources / original sources as evidences whenever possible. In other words: I wonder whether mass media like e.g. the BBC should be considered as prominent types of sources for proving claims, if there are primary sources available. My concern is not only about trustworthyness, but also about authenticity and about providing the reader with the environment for possible source-specific background information, incl. the background which allows to explore the position of the originator of the source.

    The “Syrian Observatory” e.g. is controversial. Should’nt this be called to attention?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Observatory_for_Human_Rights#Accuracy
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrische_Beobachtungsstelle_f%C3%BCr_Menschenrechte#Kritik

    By the way, tnx for revising the “80% of refugees being men” claim.

    1. Rewrite

      100% agree. Always find primary sources if possible and try to use multiple independent sources where possible. I have found many instances where trusted media like the BCC and others in the west said one thing and then I went to the primary source and it said something very different and even contradicting those claims.

      1. Rewrite

        Indeed. Will switch source to Syria Observ HR soon. Flaneur, were you able to reach out to Carla Ortiz? It’s okay if not. I can do it. Let me know though.

        1. Rewrite

          Yes, I emailed her Sunday but she has yet to contact me back.

    2. Rewrite

      Hi Ingrid, I clarified Flaneur’s BBC link to reflect SOHR was the original source. I also linked to a NYT article that reported that the Aleppo Eye Hospital was used as a base for rebel groups. Please let me know if you think this section, or another section, needs further revision.

  2. Other

    “Claim: The refugees who are escaping Assad by crossing from East Ghouta on March 1st, 2018, are almost all (she says 80 percent) men in early 20s to 30s, without wives and children”

    This would appear to be a distortion of what she said. She did not claim that 80% escaping East Ghouta were men. She said the refugees going into Europe from Syria are 80% men (which is false) and she contrasted that with the people in her video who are moving from E Ghouta into another part of Syria.

    The people in her interviews are NOT refugees. Refugees are defined as someone who has been forced to cross national boundaries (such as from Syria into Europe). The people she interviewed are going from one area of Syria to another. There is a term that is used for them: “Internally displaced persons”.

    1. Rewrite

      Tnx, Flaneur, I’m sorry, it was my mistake. I find the video difficult to listen to.

      What’s missing now is the age statement so that the claim should read as follows: “The refugees coming into Europe are 80 percent men in their early 20s to 30s”

      Is there a reason why you did not keep the official European asylum statistics (Eurostat) as a source as contained in revision 69708? Eurostat is quite recent (2017) and combines values for country (Syria), sex and age.

      Eurostat could complement Politifact,
      whose values cover the year 2015 only up to October,
      which does not include age related values,
      which does not contain the value for male Syrian refugees, but reports the Syrian share of the total number of refugees seperately from the male share of the total number of refugees.

      Calculated on the basis of absolute Eurostat figures, the share of men in the age of 18 to 34 years of the total Syrian asylum applicants was
      38.88 percent in 2015,
      28.09 percent in 2016,
      16.25 percent in 2017.
      Please see https://www.wikitribune.com/wikitribune-revisions-viewer/?revisionID=69708.

      Politico (October 4th, 2015):
      “almost 534,000 people who have crossed into Europe this year”
      “69 percent of sea arrivals are men”
      “Of those 534,000, about 55 percent of them are from Syria”

      1. Rewrite

        I will email Ortiz to get some clarification as I am not completely certain on what she meant and where she got her source on some of these claims.

        1. Rewrite

          Hi Flaneur- Let me know if you need any help with the email. Please keep in mind, people may ask for a transcript or the text of the email.

          What I’m learning from this exercise is that fact-checking is very dependent on the words spoken rather than the intended message. I think Ingrid did a great job in fact-checking what Ortiz said. The language barrier, and Ortiz’s general impreciseness of speaking, have made this a challenge.

          I tend to side with Ingrid that Ortiz’s claim is false. Whether Ortiz meant to or not, she insinuated that its mainly single men who leave Syria while families, “the sympathetic Syrians,” stay behind in the war zone.

          I have not approved edits on this section but will refer back now.

          1. Rewrite

            English is clearly Ortiz’s second language but here, I thought she was very clear she was contrasting the refugees going into Europe with the people in her video.

            Here are her words (starting at around 25:45):

            “Every time that we show, oh, all these refugees are escaping al-Assad, let’s look at the footage, don’t believe us right now, don’t believe Jimmy, don’t believe myself, go and google ‘the refugees that were crossing and escaping Assad, they’re all, most, basically eighty percent of them are men in their early twenties to thirties, alone without wives…looking for ‘refugee in Europe’…What about these people [points at the screen], look at them. They’re women, they are parents with children.”

            It’s pretty clear from her words and the context that she was not referring to the people in her video as being 80% men in their 20s and 30s but contrasting them with the people in her video.

            The people going into Europe are from all over Syria while she filmed a much smaller group escaping from jihadi controlled territory and into Assad controlled territory.

            1. Rewrite

              Ingrid’s source addresses Syrians seeking asylum in Europe, which are mainly men. Do you think this needs further revision? Feel free to edit but I don’t think there’s reason to take out Ingrid’s Eurostat source.

  3. Rewrite

    “CAR found in a 2017 study that three percent of weapons possessed by the Islamic State come from NATO countries.”

    The source from the Independent did not say this. It said that 3% of weapons are “Nato-grade.” Non Nato countries make Nato-grade weapons!

    “Nato-grade” presumably means that the weapons are chambered in 5.56X45
    which is often called a NATO round.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.56%C3%9745mm_NATO

    1. Rewrite

      We will need to contact CAR to clarify. I will contact them. Send me any questions you have for them.

      This is a bullet point from the CAR study that made me think NATO-calibre indicates where the weapon was manufactured. (I’m assuming this is the study cited by the Independent):

      “Around 90 per cent of weapons and ammunition (97 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively) deployed by IS forces are Warsaw Pact calibres— originating primarily in China, Russia, and Eastern European producer states. NATO-calibre weapons and ammunition are far less prevalent, comprising 3 per cent and 13 per cent of the total, respectively; although these proportions are low, IS forces captured significant quantities of NATO weaponry during initial assaults on Iraqi forces in 2014.”

      ^^^ This makes it seem as if there is a NATO-calibre vs. Warsaw Pact calibre dichotomy that breaks along western and eastern lines.

      But more importantly, CAR study also reported that U.S.-backed forces may have sold Warsaw Pact-calibre weapons to opposition forces:

      “Unauthorised retransfer—the violation of agreements by which a supplier government prohibits the re-export of materiel by a recipient government without its prior consent—is
      a significant source of IS weapons and ammunition. The United States and Saudi Arabia supplied most of this materiel without authorisation, apparently to Syrian opposition forces. This diverted materiel, recovered from IS forces, comprises exclusively Warsaw Pact- calibre weapons and ammunition, purchased by the United States and Saudi Arabia from European Union (EU) Member States in Eastern Europe.”

      “Russia and China, combined, manufactured more than 50 per cent of the weapons and ammunition held by IS forces. Former Warsaw Pact countries that are now EU Member States manufactured a significant proportion of the remaining materiel (more than 30 per cent of weapons and 20 per cent of ammunition).”

      “Nearly 40 per cent of all 40 mm (PG-7) and 73 mm (PG-9) anti-armour rockets deployed by IS forces in Iraq were produced in the past four years (2014 to 2017)—the period during which the group became a significant component of the Iraq and Syria conflicts. EU Member States produced nearly 20 per cent of these post-2014-manufactured rockets (and 40 per cent of rockets manufactured since 2010)—a fact that sits uncomfortably with the EU’s parallel efforts to degrade the group’s capacity to wage war and terrorism and to mitigate the international effects of the Syrian conflict.”

      1. Rewrite

        I emailed CAR and I fixed the section to reflect U.S. involvement in diverting Warsaw Pact calibre weapons to Syria. Everyone can send additional questions for CAR in this thread.

  4. Flagged as bias

    ‘Claim: Red Crescent treatment center was designated as a “no fly-zone” or safe zone under NATO….’

    This seems like a very uncharitable interpretation of what she actually said. She seems to have corrected herself after saying “Nato” with “UN”.

    The Red Crescent, it’s workers, vehicles and buildings, as well as well as those of the Red Cross, enjoy certain protections under international humanitarian law (Geneva Conventions).

    She probably didn’t mean to use no-fly zone as a technical term but to say that they enjoys certain protections under international law. See here.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emblems_of_the_International_Red_Cross_and_Red_Crescent_Movement

    ‘Medical personnel during an armed conflict carry out humanitarian work and are “protected persons” under international humanitarian law. Whether military or civilian, they are considered non-combatants and may not be attacked and not be taken as prisoners of war by parties to a conflict. They use a protective sign such as the red cross, red crescent, or red crystal. Attacking medical personnel, vehicles, or buildings marked with one of these protective signs is a war crime.
    The emblems of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, under the Geneva Conventions, are to be placed on humanitarian and medical vehicles and buildings, and to be worn by medical personnel and others carrying out humanitarian work, to protect them from military attack on the battlefield.’

    1. Rewrite

      I also asked experts if Red Crescents were ever given “safe zone” status as well, and if Al Nusra built operations near by in order to benefit from this protective status.

      I know there’s a slight language barrier but it seemed that Ortiz was saying that Red Crescent buildings are protected by NATO and the UN.

      I will add the context you gave. And will ask the same experts if Red Crescent operations are indeed avoided by government forces.

  5. Rewrite

    The grammar (and logic) of this sentence is confusing:

    “Thirty percent of government ministers are not female.”

    If they are “not female” does that mean they are male? If so, that means 30% of the parliament are male (are the other 70% female?).

    I think you meant to say “It’s not true that 30 percent are female.” Or “Less than thirty percent are female,” which is accurate according to the link I supplied.

    1. Rewrite

      I fixed it and included more context. Did not see you link though.

      1. Rewrite

        I still think the sentence is confused. You want to say that she is inaccurate or that the available evidence contradicts her statement. However, you sentence:

        “Thirty percent of government ministers are not filled by female members.”

        Is perfectly logically consistent with her statement. She says that 30% of government ministers are women and therefore presumably the rest (70%) are men. However, within that 70% are 30% who are not female (because they are male!).

        My sentence is much clearer on this.

        Fact check : Some of these claims are inaccurate. Less than thirty percent of government ministers are women as of 04/13/2016 according to Inter Parliament Union.  However, she may have intended to say that 13 percent of parliament are women, (33 out of 250) which is true. (Inter Parliament Union).

        1. Rewrite

          You’re right. Could you include your copy when you have a moment? I can do it later if you’re unable. Also, I learned Syria had a ‘five-year’ plan to fill 30 percent of “decision-making” positions with women by 2010, but the government never came close to reaching this goal. I included this in the fact check citing Freedom House, though there are several other sources that detail the same plan. Surely Ortiz was referencing this so we should keep it along with your answer.

  6. Rewrite

    It’s false to say that Gabbard did not “mention Al Nusra by name.” She did, according to the supplied link (at :32 second mark of the video). She was likely using the NYT article (also supplied in the links) as a source.

    1. Rewrite

      Thank you. You’re right that she did mention “Al Nusra” when quoting the NYT piece. I approved your edits.

      Also, that Equal Rights Trust source was very helpful. Much appreciated.

  7. Rewrite

    The fact check regarding the age and gender distribution of refugees “fleeing Assad” is not on point with respect to Ortiz’s claim. The stats offered in the fact check refer to all asylum applications which, of course, includes those fleeing violence from any and all sides. I believe that Ortiz was referring specifically to those who have fled before the advance of government forces. The implication of their comparative youth and heavy skew toward men being that they are primarily rebel fighters who, obviously, have good reason to flee.

    1. Rewrite

      I cautiously phrased “[the statistics] do not readily support this claim”. The statistics can just serve as a hint, they might be taken into consideration along with further facts that hopefully will be contributed. They are neither about the specific place or exact time nor about reasons for fleeing, of course. Time information referes to years only, up to 2017 only.

      Time 24:18, the footage “March 1st 2018 the West said the corridors were a joke” starts. March 2018 should be the time we are taking about. If I understand right, the said 80 percent refere to “all these refugees” that are said to be escaping Assad (time 25:48). The 80 percent are “looking for refugee in Europe” (time 20:14). Please correct me if I don’t transcript right, it’s not easy for me to follow the spoken word – what does this mean: “looking for refugee in Europe”?

      Indirectly, Ortiz also claims that, as part of the remaining twenty percent, there are relatively few women and children fleeing at all. Furthermore she claims that women and children don’t flee Assad (time: 26:20).

      The EU statistics contrast with these statements.

      1. Rewrite

        I think that there is a bit of a misunderstanding of what she is saying. She is indeed claiming that women and children don’t flee Assad. Her claim is that that these people in the video are the few who got through the corridor prior to the assault by government forces (thereby avoiding the coming violence). Her claim is that when the government is poised to take over an area, most of those who leave are rebel fighters. We can evaluate the evidence for her claim (or lack of it). My point is that the UN figures do not speak to the issue because they refer to all claimants for refugees status in Europe or elsewhere, whereas Ortiz is talking about internal displacements in the face of advancing government forces.

        1. Rewrite

          Tnx, Blake. I have just submitted a clarification.
          I’ve also specified the phrasing of the claim because it is not about Aleppo as the intro puts it, and it referes to a definite time. Fact checking has to be about a single event in Ghouta on March 1st, 2018.

  8. Rewrite

    The tone is not neutral. Wikitribune should be neutral , unless I am wrong.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Ferson, can you give us some examples that show how it’s not neutral? Many thanks.

  9. Rewrite

    An investigation into White Helmets themselves and fact-checking all we know about them would be more logical, I think. Why exactly Carla Ortiz?
    There are many other sources of information that questions their actions, as well as praising them, so it would be nice if a full report would be compiled, with fact-checking of all their activity, funding and neutrality.

    1. Rewrite

      These other sources. Please share them. Also are they just parroting the original source?

    2. Rewrite

      Hi Michael, we chose Ortiz for three reasons. (1) Her popularity amongst those who sympathize with the Assad government (2) She visited Aleppo and plans to release a documentary of her experience (3) Her introduction to left-leaning circles in the United States through the Jimmy Dore Show.

      Please share your sources on the white helmets at the bottom of the story.

  10. Rewrite

    Please, let’s not repeat propaganda uncritically; we must be careful with wording. “Syrian regime” is a derogatory term coined by the US. The proper (legal even) term is Syrian government. Or, more properly, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic.

    1. Rewrite

      I totally agree with you, language matters a lot in framing events.

      By the way, your comment is a nice validation to the core idea that fact checking should be open and anyone can share their view.

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