Two days prior to devastating aerial attacks, Michael Ratney, the U.S. special envoy to Syria, was told the Assad regime was planning to hit the Aleppo facilities of the Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue group.
Raed al-Saleh, the head of the organization, which is widely known as the White Helmets, was in Manhattan last week, where he told not only Ratney, but envoys from the Netherlands, Britain, and Canada. He said intercepted communications from military officers in the Assad regime signaled imminent plans to bomb several rescue centers, according to two sources who were in the room when al-Saleh transmitting this intelligence.
“We just received a message from the spotters, just an hour ago, they detected messages from the regime radio that they will attack [Syrian Civil Defense] centers in northern Aleppo,” one of those sources jotted down during the meeting, quoting al-Saleh. “First with surface to surface to missiles and, if they miss, they will use spies on the ground to adjust coordinates and come back.”
Within 48 hours, that forecast proved all too true, as three out of four of the White Helmet’s installations—one of them a makeshift firehouse, two others ambulance depots—were pulverized in Syria’s most populous city in acts that Western officials have called the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians and humanitarian workers.
Ratney did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment about whether or not he was forewarned of this atrocity or if he or the U.S. government took any measures to try and prevent it from happening.
One of those at the meeting described the discussion as “very fucking bizarre. … They were all basically saying ‘yes, this is awful, but we’re not going to do anything about it.’”
The second source confirmed that al-Saleh’s message appeared to generate no substantive response from the officials present.
According to Abdul Rahman al-Hassani, the chief liaison officer for the White Helmets based in Aleppo, open-frequency regime chatter was picked up via a listening station used by the organization as an advance warning system for impending airstrikes or ground attacks: “They said, in Arabic, that they will be shelling civil defense centers. And if they are not hit the first time, then [the regime] will correct its targeting and do it again. And anyone who came to pull people from the rubble would be targeted, too.”
We should be shocked we should feel deep outrage, but this is so common, its like being on a long long drive become numb to the scenery, are we there yet? Now who was in charge who was informed? A private charity that volunteers to go into harms way to pull victims out of rubble, are we the boss of them like a MASH unit, we tell them to bugout? War sucks, This person should have gone to the charity with the information before the bombing to minimize casualties. We cant be responsible for frigging everything, everybody, everywhere.