According to The Economist, August 2012, the rebels in Syria "are failing to win hearts and minds ... in Aleppo.
"Meanwhile, the political opposition is as divided as ever.
More than they can chew
"What a surprise to see the Syrian ‘Activists’ alleging yet another massacre this morning.
"Such a massacre is alleged whenever the cause of the ‘activists’ (ie that of Saudi Arabia) is flagging.
"Maybe there has been a massacre. I don’t know. Maybe a lot of people have been killed because our nice friends, the ‘activists’, have set up a base in the middle of a crowded residential area and the Syrian authorities have attacked it.
"But what is guaranteed is that the BBC and the British Foreign office will unquestioningly parrot and retail these claims, while treating as contemptible propaganda any counter-statements by the Syrian government.
"I don’t mind the scepticism about the Assad government. It’s perfectly proper. But one of the chief ways of exercising bias is to be selectively doubtful and selectively critical.
"Establishing the truth about these claims is very difficult in a war zone.
"I have also been deeply suspicious of the use of massacres and mass graves by news organisations since my first visit to Iraq , soon after the Us-British invasion.
"I heard, on my shortwave radio, that a new mass grave had been uncovered near Hilla.
"The BBC reporter, already there, said the air was full of a terrible stench.
"I felt I had better go and have a look (Anthony Blair at the time was saying that nobody who saw such mass graves could fail to support his invasion).
"So, with my two colleagues ( an Iraqi Christian who was my interpreter, and the superb photographer Michael Thomas) , I hurried down to Hilla. After much hunting, we found the site.
"It was indeed terrible. Relatives of the dead, mainly black-clad, veiled women, were searching for confirmation of the horrible truth they already knew, among the newly opened graves, finding old identity documents or copies of the Koran among bones, scraps of cloth and skulls.
"Two things struck me.
"There was no stench, as these bodies had been in the ground for many years ... and in the fierce Iraqi sun they had long ago decomposed..."