17 September 2020 by Ariane Lavrilleux, Frank Andrews and Elie Guckert. This team was assisted by a fourth journalist, who wants to remain anonymous for security reasons.
French humanitarian NGO SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOSCO) claims to support persecuted Christians in Syria and the wider Middle East without interfering in conflicts or local politics. In reality, the NGO—which was founded by far-right, conservative, Catholic activists— thinly veils its agenda to amplify Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s propaganda and push for a normalisation of diplomatic relationships between Damascus and EU countries.
Using open-source analysis and extensive reporting, the 8-month investigation reveals that SOSCO’s Syrian operations have provided support to Christian militias fighting for Assad that have been accused of multiple war crimes. The NGO’s support could make it complicit in these crimes.
While working on small-scale projects in regime-held areas, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient also runs an extensive PR campaign designed to portray Bashar al-Assad as the defender of Christian minorities, whitewashing and even denying his extensive list of crimes against humanity.
Read the full story on Bellingcat.