White Helmets Claim to Neutrality Fabricated to Perpetuate US-Led Propaganda Efforts in Syria

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

The White Helmets is a non-governmental organization formed in 2013 in the heat of the Syrian civil war, which describes itself as being committed to “saving lives on all sides of the conflict,” while remaining “unarmed and neutral.” Following the production and release of the self-titled, Oscar-winning Netflix documentary, the White Helmets have been lauded in the Western world for its heroic role as first responders throughout rebel-held areas in Syria. However, the White Helmets may be more gray than Western media portray, and the documentary may serve as a tool to perpetuate the US-led propaganda agenda in the conflict.

While the supposed NGO claims to be unbiased, the organization’s funding and leadership raises concerns. The organization is funded directly from government agencies including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK’s Foreign Office. Specifically, USAID has contributed nearly $29 million to the organization. The US and UK both have vested interests in the Syrian conflict, significantly blurring the “neutral” stance of the supposed “non-governmental organization.”

The White Helmets’ origins and leadership raise further questions regarding its alleged impartial stance. The Syria Campaign, an entity within the White Helmets, maintains a strong social media presence, including its website. On this website, the White Helmet’s leader has advocated a UN- imposed no-fly zone in Syria, which has been a rallying cry for regime change, as Randi Nord reported in Geopolitics Alert in October 2016. The leader, Raed Saleh, was also denied entry into the US after his visa was cancelled for allegedly unknown reasons.

Moreover, the White Helmets was created by James Le Mesurier, a former British army officer and security specialist, in conjunction with representatives from the Syrian National Council and the Qatar Red Crescent Society—undermining claims that the organization originated with Syrian civilians.

Furthermore, video footage documents White Helmets armed and outwardly celebrating with members of al-Nusra Front, directly contradicting the White Helmets’ “unarmed and neutral” pledge. “Heroism, it seems, can cover myriad sins, even the collaboration with designated terror groups to fight a common enemy,” Scott Ritter reported for Truthdig in October 2016.

As of March 2017, US corporate media have not covered controversies over the White Helmets, as reported by independent journalists. Instead, limited corporate coverage has focused on the Netflix documentary and its Oscar victory at the Academy Awards. By contrast, independent media coverage of the controversy is potent. Coverage ranges from Vanessa Beeley’s detailed October 2015 report for 21st Century Wire, and Scott Ritter’s analysis of the relationship between the White Helmets and the US’ Syria policy on Truthdig, to Randi Nord’s exposé on the documentary’s Oscar win in relation to terrorism on Geopolitics Alert, and Rick Sterling’s Consortium News report.


Scott Ritter, “The ‘White Helmets’ and the Inherent Contradiction of America’s Syria Policy, Truth Dig, October 5, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/white_helmets_inherent_contradiction_americas_syria_policy_20161005.

Randi Nord, “The White Helmets: How Western-Funded Terrorists Won an Oscar,” Geopolitics Alert, October 7, 2016, http://geopoliticsalert.com/the-white-helmets.

Rick Sterling, “The ‘White Helmets’ Controversy,” Consortium News, October 23, 2016, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/10/23/the-white-helmets-controversy/

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