Friday marked the 8th anniversary of the 2011 Syrian protests which culminated in a brutal, foreign-backed war which claimed the lives up to 470,000 Syrians and forced millions more to flee their homes. On the somber occasion, Sputnik recalls the top five times dishonest reporting was used as a weapon to worsen the Syrian crisis.
Over the past several years, with Syrian troops liberating the vast majority of the country’s population centers from an eclectic mix of jihadists, the Syrian conflict, or at least its active phase, seems to be nearing its an end. However, as recently as a year ago, while the Syrian Army continued its advance southward to clear the suburbs of Damascus and the regions of Daraa and Quneitra from the terrorists, Damascus’s enemies, both foreign and domestic, continued to wage a very different kind of war, this one fought with video cameras, Twitter, and the patronage of major Western media outlets.
Douma Chemical Hoax Video Leads to Real Airstrikes
On April 7, 2018, the Western-funded White Helmets ‘rescue group’ released a video from the militant-controlled city of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, picturing a terrifying scene from a local hospital showing locals breathing through respirators and being doused with water to deal with the aftermath of what appeared to be a gas attack. The clip was aired by virtually every network television channel in the US and Europe, and prompted an outraged President Donald Trump to call Syrian President Bashar Assad an “animal” who would have “a big price to pay” for the carnage. A week later, the US, France and Britain launched a campaign of air and missile strikes against Syrian government targets.
However, a few weeks later, Russian media obtained verified testimony from multiple eyewitnesses who appeared in the video, including that of an 11-year-old boy who revealed that he and his mother were given food for participating in the clip. Unfortunately, later analysis showed that this eyewitness testimony debunking the chemical attack claim was broadly ignored by mainstream outlets.
Omran Daqneesh: Boy’s Suffering Exploited for Cheap Photo Op
In August 2016, a haunting image of a five-year-old boy covered in dust and blood seated in the back of an ambulance in Syria’s Aleppo went viral, with major US TV networks, newspapers and social media reporting on the boy, who was said to have been injured in a ‘brutal Russian airstrike’ on a rebel-held neighbourhood. The story moved at least one CNN anchor to tears, and prompted veteran journalist Christiane Amanpour to confront Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with the photo during an interview, saying that it illustrated a “crime against humanity.”
However, sometime after the photo made its way out of the 24 hour news cycle, inquisitive investigators found out that the individual who took Omran’s pictures had a habit of posing with terrorists, including the militants who posted for a video in which they beheaded a 12-year-old boy in Aleppo in July 2016. In 2017, nearly a year after the incident, Omran’s father came forth, revealing to Russian media that the insurgents in militant-controlled Aleppo had shamelessly turned his son into a propaganda tool.
Bana Alabed: ‘Child Exploitation for Use by Western Governments’
In 2016, as Syrian forces launched their operation to free the eastern portion of Aleppo from the terrorists, a 7-year-old girl named Bana Alabed shot to global fame with a series of tweets about life in a war-torn Syrian city from a child’s perspective. Making Time’s list of most influential people online in 2017 and lauded by the Washington Post as ‘Aleppo’s Anne Frank’, the little girl’s heartbreaking story of bravery and perseverance became a source of inspiration for Hollywood actors, politicians and media personalities worldwide. …