No BBC News follow-up on Golan paraglider story

Given the BBC’s longstanding – but recently intensified – preoccupation with ISIS and considering that on October 25th it published a report titled “‘Israeli Arab paraglider’ sparks Syria border operation“, it was surprising to see that BBC News chose to ignore the follow-up story to the incident portrayed in that article.Paraglider art

On November 18th the Israeli security services released a statement concerning the indictment of members of a cell of ISIS sympathisers from Jaljulia.

“Security forces services recently busted a group of six Israeli Arab men who planned to travel to Syria with the intention of fighting alongside the radical Islamic State group. A seventh member of the group succeeded in flying across the Israel-Syrian border on the Golan Heights on a hang glider last month.

In a statement Wednesday, the Shin Bet security service said the six suspects, all residents of the northern Israeli-Arab town of Jaljulia, had been planning for months to make their way to Syria. […]

The seventh member of the group, Nadal Hamad Salah Salah, 23, flew a hang glider across the border from the Golan Heights and into Syria on October 24, setting off an intensive investigation by security services.

As a result of the initial investigation, later the same evening two brothers were arrested, Jihad Nadal Yousef Hagala, 26 and Ahab Nadal Yousel Hagala, 22.

The brothers were known to police as supporters of the Islamic State group, the Shin Bet said. The elder brother, Jihad, spent six months in Syria in 2013 fighting with IS and was arrested after his return to Israel. He was tried, sentenced to prison, and released in November 2014.

During the investigation, it emerged that the brothers had helped Salah to make his exit to Syria to join IS, the indictment said. In recent months Salah had allegedly agreed with Jihad Nadal Yousef Hagala to use hang gliders to get to Syria. The pair planned to glide over the border because Hagala was concerned that, due to his history, he would be flagged and stopped by Israeli security if he tried flying out of Ben Gurion Airport on a commercial flight.”

Notably, the BBC also refrained from reporting on a previous story concerning an ISIS cell in northern Israel which came to light at the beginning of October.



BBC does damage control after Bowen’s Assad advocacy

In an article titled “Bashar al-Assad is still the problem” which appeared recently in the Telegraph, Shiraz Maher and Nick Kaderbhai observed that:

“The idea that the Assad regime’s violence is somehow morally or strategically different to that of jihadist actors in Syria has become fashionable among some sections of the Western media. Perhaps a symptom of fatigue or sympathies forged during time spent as guests of the regime, mainstream commentators such as Patrick Cockburn and Peter Oborne have been at the forefront of this trahison des clercs.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 95 per cent of all civilian deaths in the conflict have come from the regime. The refugees now fleeing to Europe do so as a direct result of Assad’s policies.”

As readers are already aware, the BBC – and in particular its Middle East editor – also appears to have been afflicted by that particular trend.Bowen tweet Syria mukharabat

BBC News’ migrant crisis coverage: Bowen embeds with Assad

More BBC Bowen beating of the Assad regime drum

More BBC amplification of the ‘ISIS worse than Assad’ meme

However, it would appear that following Jeremy Bowen’s repeated uncritical promotion of Bashar al Assad’s agenda earlier this month, some damage control was deemed appropriate and that came in the form of an article by Charles Lister which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 28th under the title “Viewpoint: West ‘walking into abyss’ on Syria“.

Mr Lister writes:

“Amid recent geopolitical machinations, one simple reality appears to have been forgotten or purposefully ignored: Assad is not and should never be seen as a better alternative to IS. […]

Meanwhile, the Assad regime has conducted a consistent policy of intentional mass killing of civilians – first with air strikes and ballistic missiles, then with barrel bombs and widely alleged use of chemical weapons.

Bashar al-Assad has professionalised and industrialised the use of detention and torture to “cleanse” his own population, while imposing dozens of medieval-style sieges on vulnerable populations. He has consistently flouted UN Security Council resolutions and according to some sources, has been responsible for 95% of all 111,000 civilian deaths since 2011.”

Of course BBC audiences – who only a short time ago were informed that “the Syrian army has never, ever attacked or initiated any attack against a city or against a village” and that “the real threat in Syria is Islamic State, not the country’s leader” – may well find that this latest article only adds to their confusion seeing as it contradicts everything they were told in Jeremy Bowen’s numerous reports.

Rather than helping audiences to form a clear picture of what is happening in Syria and why so many people are fleeing to other countries as its public purpose remit demands, the BBC’s indulgence of Jeremy Bowen’s partisan reporting serves only to muddy audience understanding of this topic.

BBC’s pattern of Gaza reporting migrates north

September 26th saw yet another incident of spillover fire from the fighting in Syria in the northern Golan Heights.

“A rocket launched from Syria fell in open territory in the northern Golan Heights on Saturday evening, causing no injuries or damage. Air raid sirens were not triggered in the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that it was likely a result of errant fire from the ongoing civil war in the neighboring country. There have been numerous such incidents since the war began in March 2011.”

The following day a similar incident occurred in the same area.

“A rocket fired from war-torn Syria strayed into the Israeli sector of the Golan Heights on Sunday, the Israeli army said, in the second such incident in as many days.

The Israeli military said the rocket crashed into a field without causing any casualties or damage.

It said that it was the result of Syria’s conflict in which various factions are fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as each other.”

Neither of those incidents was covered by BBC News. Later on the evening of September 27th Israeli forces responded to the two incidents.  

“An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed that the IDF had conducted two artillery strikes on Syrian positions on the outskirts of Quneitra following earlier rocket strike in the Golan on Sunday night.

The spokesman had said that the IDF “viewed the Syrian army as responsible for any fire emanating within its territory, and that the IDF will not allow any attempts to harm Israel’s sovereignty or citizens.””BBC Arabic Quneitra 27 9

Whilst that event was also ignored by the BBC’s English language services, as has often been the case when Israel has responded to missile fire from the Gaza Strip in recent months, the Israeli action was the focus of an article appearing on the BBC Arabic website on September 27th under the inadequate headline “Israel bombed military sites belonging to the Syrian army“.

Related Articles:

BBC yet again ignores Gaza missile fire – in English

More BBC amplification of the ‘ISIS worse than Assad’ meme

Just three weeks ago the synopsis to a filmed report appearing on the BBC News website told its visitors that:

“Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, has said that the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe is the direct result of terrorist aggression against Syria.

He blamed Islamist militants for forcing thousands from their homes and said the government had helped millions of displaced people.”

In the report itself, BBC audiences heard Faisal Mekdad say:

“The Syrian army has never, ever attacked or initiated any attack against a city or against a village and if you see at least the most recent attacks you will see them initiated by the terrorist factions and when these terrorist groups attack villages and cities you see a very big flood of people leaving those areas.”

On September 21st the BBC News website’s Europe and Middle East pages carried a filmed report by the corporation’s correspondent in Moscow, Sarah Rainsford, which was promoted under the headline “Russia says Islamic State, not Assad, the danger in Syria” and that message was repeated in the synopsis:Rainsford report Russia

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Moscow to voice concerns over reports of a Russian military build-up in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

The US has already warned that Russian action risks complicating the conflict further.

However Russia says that the real threat in Syria is Islamic State, not the country’s leader.” [emphasis added]

In the report itself viewers heard Rainsford say:

“Russia’s line is clear: the real danger in Syria today is Islamic State.”

They then heard from a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson:

“Absolutely for sure we know that [the] terrorist threat in Syria is something very dangerous and it’s very dangerous not only for [the] Middle East region but also for Europe and also for Russia.”

It is of course perfectly reasonable for the BBC to report statements from interested parties such as the Syrian deputy foreign minister or his regime’s Russian and Iranian allies just as long as audiences are also given the background facts which would enable them to put such statements into their correct context.

These two examples join previous reports in which no such background information has been provided, with the result being that BBC audiences are being steered towards a grossly simplistic and distorted view of the conflict in Syria which does nothing to meet the corporation’s obligation to “build a global understanding of international issues”.


More BBC Bowen beating of the Assad regime drum

Last week we discussed several reports produced by Jeremy Bowen during the time he recently spent in and around Damascus and took note of the fact that BBC audiences were provided with a very one-sided portrayal of the situation in Syria which exclusively reflected the Assad regime’s interests.

One feature seen in that round of reporting by the BBC’s Middle East editor was unchallenged amplification of a Syrian government deputy minister’s claim that the regime had never targeted its own civilian population. In that and all of his later reports Bowen failed to inform audiences of the fact that there is ample evidence to contradict that claim.Bowen written 14 7 Damascus

After having left Damascus, Bowen produced some further reports. A written article titled “Syria conflict: No sign of Assad regime crumbling” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 14th. At least in that piece (in contrast to the reports produced previously) the man whose job title was created with the aim of “providing analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience” finally got round to making a brief mention of the support supplied to the Assad regime from Iran and its Lebanese proxy.

“But President Assad has his vital trio of supporters: Russia, Iran and Hezbollah from Lebanon. Russia seems to be increasing its military support for the regime.

Hezbollah men are fighting along the border with Lebanon. Iran provides vital financial and military assistance.”

However, Bowen managed to place the responsibility for the Syria refugee crisis at the door of parties other than Bashar al Assad.

“The war exports trouble, violence and refugees. Half of Syria’s pre-war population has fled from the fighting. Eight million are still in Syria, displaced, refugees in their own country. Four million have left Syria.

Britain and others hoped that helping with a relief effort for refugees would encourage them to stay put.

But hopes among refugees that the war would end relatively quickly disappeared as the killing went on. […]

It was even worse when it sunk in that they might face years more in camps in Jordan and Turkey, or even worse, in informal shanty towns and the slums of Lebanon.

What made matters worse was that the rich countries that funded the relief effort led by the UN agencies have made big cuts to their contributions.”

Bowen also produced two filmed reports for BBC television news – both of which also appeared on the BBC News website. “Syria crisis: Jeremy Bowen on the subterranean battle in Damascus” – September 14th – repeated a theme also seen in Bowen’s above written report.

“They do not look like a beaten army. I think those people who are predicting the fall of the Assad regime once again will once again be guilty – certainly in the foreseeable future – of wishful thinking.”

In a report from the same location dated September 15th – “Syria: On the front line in Damascus” – Bowen once again provided an unchallenged platform for Syrian regime propaganda – this time from an officer in the Syrian Republican Guard.Bowen filmed 15 7 Damascus

Bowen: “The colonel and his men say they are patriots fighting terrorists. He rejects accusations that the Syrian army targets civilians. The claim is that more civilians are killed by the Syrian army than by any other armed force here in Syria.

Col. Sultan: “This is all propaganda to slander the reputation of the army. It’s all lies. We were brought up not to harm peaceful civilians. We only kill people we see with our own eyes holding a weapon.”

Bowen made no attempt to challenge that obvious falsehood on camera and neither was any qualifying statement reminding audiences of the numerous incidents which contradict Sultan’s claims added to Bowen’s voice-over in later editing.

Interestingly, the keen interest in alleged breaches of the laws of armed combat displayed by Jeremy Bowen in his reporting from the Gaza Strip in July 2014 appears to have completely evaporated upon his arrival in Damascus.

BBC News’ migrant crisis coverage: Bowen embeds with Assad

BBC News coverage of what it terms the “Europe migrant crisis” has recently involved sending various members of staff to report from different countries including Libya, Jordan, Hungary and Turkey.

The person chosen to provide BBC audiences with the information which would supposedly help them understand the reasons behind the mass movement of people from Syria to Europe was the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and it is worth taking a look at some of his recent reports from Syria in order to determine whether or not audiences did in fact receive the full range of factual information concerning the situation in the country from which a large proportion of the migrants fled.Bowen tweets Mekdad presser

After having arrived in Damascus on September 2nd, Bowen produced a report from a press conference with the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister in which he failed to present any challenge to Mekdad’s claim that “the Syrian army has never, ever attacked or initiated any attack against a city or against a village”. That and other regime propaganda was further amplified by Bowen on Twitter.

Bowen made two filmed reports for television news programmes, both of which were also promoted on the BBC News website. The September 8th report “Inside a hospital in Syrian leader Assad’s Latakia heartland” was obviously made with the consent and help of the Assad regime and in addition to being allowed to film in a government military hospital, Bowen produced footage from a camp for internally displaced persons in Latakia. At no point in that report were the regime’s attacks on its own population mentioned and viewers received no information concerning the Iranian regime’s patronage of Assad or the participation of Iranian and Hizballah forces in the conflict.Bowen tweet camp Latakia

Another September 8th filmed report by Bowen – “Syria: Snapshot of life inside Assad stronghold” – likewise failed to include any information about the role of Iran and its Lebanese proxy in the Syrian civil war. Bowen did however manage to shoehorn another Middle Eastern country into his report by telling viewers that Yarmouk, near Damascus, “was a Palestinian refugee camp for families who were forced out of Israel in another war” [emphasis added].  Bowen’s presentation of the manner in which Palestinians – the majority from Tsfat (Safed), Haifa and Tiberias – arrived in Syria is of course both simplistic and inaccurate.

In that report too viewers saw sympathetic footage from the displaced persons camp and the military hospital in Latakia. It is of course inconceivable that Bowen visited those sites, the regime held part of Yarmouk or the military funeral in an Alawite town which also features in some of his reporting, without considerable cooperation from the Syrian regime. Stating the obvious, Bowen tells viewers that:

“…the refugee crisis is created and driven by war…”

A subsequent brief statement shows that, despite his failure to challenge Faisal Mekdad’s propaganda several days earlier, Bowen is indeed aware of the reality:

“Syrian army attacks often create more refugees and so do attacks by Jihadists.”

However, the BBC’s Middle East editor failed to expand upon that topic in any of his reports and made no effort to inform audiences of the fact that more Syrian civilians have been killed by regime forces than by Jihadists of various stripes whilst scrupulously avoiding all mention of topics such as the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs by the regime.Bowen tweet soldiers

Latakia again featured in an audio report by Bowen broadcast on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Update: Daily Commute’ on September 9th (from 03:06 here). Bowen described idyllic beach scenes before interviewing people who are clearly regime supporters. He then reported again from the same military hospital, and listeners heard more pro-regime comment.

Also on September 9th, a written report by Bowen appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Migrant crisis: How Middle East wars fuel the problem“. Once again Bowen inserted a context-free reference to Israel which is entirely irrelevant to the story he was supposedly telling.

“I walked through the ruins of Yarmouk, one of the most fiercely contested battlegrounds in Damascus, only a few miles from the centre of the city.

Yarmouk used to be a Palestinian refugee camp for families who had fled or been driven from their homes when Israel won its independence war in 1948.”

He later added:

“An unknown number of Palestinian civilians, in their thousands, are trapped there [Yarmouk] too.

UNRWA, the UN agency that looks after Palestinian refugees, has not been able visit them with relief supplies since March.”  

Bowen neglected to tell readers that Yarmouk was reclassified by the UN in June.Bowen tweet Syria mukharabat

Yet again Bowen’s tepid and generalised portrayal of the issue of migrants fleeing the war in Syria did nothing to inform BBC audiences of the role played by the Assad regime and its Iranian and Hizballah backers in creating and exacerbating the migrant crisis.

In fact, all the reports produced by Bowen during his recent visit to Syria are little more than amplification of one very specific side of the story and they exclusively reflect the interests of the regime with which he was obviously embedded.  It is therefore difficult to see how the BBC can claim that those reports contributed to providing its funding public with an accurate understanding of why so many Syrian civilians are leaving their country. 

BBC’s Bowen provides a stage for Syrian propaganda

When the Russian state funded media organisation RT promotes outlandish notions of the type below – seen in an article on its website on September 4th – no-one is of course overly surprised.

““Of course, we know that there are different approaches to Syria. By the way, people are running away not from the regime of Bashar Assad, but from Islamic State, which seized large areas in Syria and Iraq, and are committing atrocities there. That is what they are escaping from,” RIA Novosti quoted Vladimir Putin as saying on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.” [emphasis added]

Eyebrows should though be raised when the BBC provides a stage for similar unchallenged propaganda from the mouth of the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister on its website, as was the case on September 3rd. The synopsis to that filmed report – titled “Syria: ‘Terrorist aggression to blame’ for refugee crisis” – reads:Bowen Mekdad report

“Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, has said that the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe is the direct result of terrorist aggression against Syria.

He blamed Islamist militants for forcing thousands from their homes and said the government had helped millions of displaced people.

Speaking to the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, Mr Mekdad called for Syrians who had left the country to return.”

In the report itself visitors to the BBC News website see Mekdad make the following spurious claim:

The Syrian army has never, ever attacked or initiated any attack against a city or against a village and if you see at least the most recent attacks you will see them initiated by the terrorist factions and when these terrorist groups attack villages and cities you see a very big flood of people leaving those areas.” [emphasis added]

Mekdad later adds:

“When we see some leaders in Western Europe attacking the government of Syria day and night, I would like to assure you that those leaders have played a very big role in supporting terrorism in Syria because they are responsible for dispatching of these terrorist elements from their own countries under whatever pretext into Syria and into Iraq.”

The report as it stands on the BBC News website includes no qualification whatsoever to relieve audiences of the grossly inaccurate notion that the Assad regime has “never, ever” attacked Syrian civilians or of the idea that Western governments are “dispatching” people to join ISIS.

If this report was intended to contribute to meeting the BBC’s remit of building “a global understanding of international issues” by means of accurate and impartial reporting, then obviously the crude propaganda of an official of the regime which has killed tens of thousands of its own people should have been clearly signposted as such. After all, Jeremy Bowen’s position was created with the ostensible aim of providing “analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience”.

In the absence of any such clarification or even the faintest of challenges to Mekdad’s bogus claims from Jeremy Bowen, the BBC News website gives audiences very little reason to prefer it over Russian or Syrian regime sponsored media sites such as RT or SANA.

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BBC amplification of Iranian regime charm offensive misleads audiences

BBC audiences could not have failed to notice the dominant theme promoted in the headlines of the plethora of multi-platform reports produced by Kim Ghattas during her recent visit to Iran.Ghattas Iran filmed

Iran to work with rivals for peace – VP Masumeh Ebtekar  (BBC News website, 18/8/15)

‘Iran Nuclear Deal Will Promote Peace’ (‘Newsday’, BBC World Service radio, 18/8 15)

Iran VP Masoumeh Ebtekar: Nuclear deal ‘will help promote peace’  (BBC television news & BBC News website, 18/8/15)

Iran nuclear deal a step for ‘global peace’ (BBC television news & BBC News website, 18/8/15)

Iran Vice President: “We will promote peace and stability” (‘Newshour’, BBC World Service radio, 18/8/15)

All of the above reports were based on an interview with one of Iran’s twelve vice-presidents, Masumeh Ebtekar. With the BBC not having had a permanent correspondent in Tehran for six years, Ghattas’ visit obviously presented a rare opportunity to provide audiences with an up-close, unembellished portrayal of a theocratic regime notorious for its human rights abuses which has recently featured heavily in the news and to enhance their understanding of the country and its influence on the region.

However, not only did almost half an hour of blatant regime propaganda go largely unchallenged in any meaningful manner by Ghattas but the ‘peace’ theme promoted in Ebtekar’s well-spoken charm offensive was amplified in the headlines the BBC chose for those reports.

When Ghattas raised the topic of Iran’s support for Assad and Hizballah – one of the obvious contemporary examples of Iran promoting anything but regional peace and stability – she not only allowed her interviewee to dodge the real issues but provided her with a platform for the promotion of crude propaganda.

Ebtekar: “You know Palestine has always…the issue of Palestine has always been a legacy for the Islamic Republic of Iran. It’s always been supporting the oppressed against the oppressor. It’s always been supporting a cause which is just and deals with a nation which is now oppressed because it has no home.”

Ghattas: “But we’re talking about Syria.”

Ebtekar: “Yeah but Syria is part of that. It’s part of the movement to support Palestine in a sense. It’s part of a general approach in the region to support the Palestinian nation, to resist; it’s part of the resistance. It’s important, I think, that a lot of the equations in the region take shape on the basis of the resistance movement and that is to resist occupation, to resist oppression.”

Ghattas noted the civilian death toll in Syria and the Assad regime’s use of barrel bombs against its own people before adopting her interviewee’s terminology:

“How does that fit into the issue of resistance and what do you tell those Syrians who are suffering today?”

Again, she allowed Ebtekar to dodge the real issue.Ghattas Iran audio

Ebtekar: “I think that what has happened in the past few decades in this part of the world, it has created many reasons for nations like the Syrian nation or the Lebanese nation to feel threatened by the policies of the Zionist regime. They have been increasing their settlements; they have been pushing forward in different areas, occupying many of the lands belonging to the Palestinians. So it is considered as an imminent threat and that is a reason for resistance and that is a reason for governments like the government of Syria to stand up in the face of that.”

In addition to failing to challenge that whitewashing of the Syrian regime’s slaughter of its own people, Ghattas made no attempt to relieve viewers of the misleading and inaccurate impressions created by her interviewee in relation to ‘increasing’ settlements or ‘occupying’ lands. Later on when Ghattas asked if any of the funds freed up by sanctions relief will be funneled to the Assad regime, she allowed Ebtekar to fob viewers off with talk of “environmental challenges” and “green technologies”.

Kim Ghattas’ failure to cut through any of the slick replies to her questions means that this widely promoted interview obviously did nothing to advance the BBC’s purpose to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”.  Rather, it actively misled BBC audiences by herding them towards ridiculous notions such as the idea that hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians have been killed by their own government and millions more forced to seek refuge in Europe and elsewhere because of Israel.  

The idea that a regime which produces violent anti-Israel propaganda videos and includes officials who state openly that “[o]ur positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan” is a force for regional stability and peace is plainly risible. Nevertheless, the BBC chose to amplify that absurdity, selling out Syrians, Israelis, Iranians and many more along the way. 

Sadly, given the BBC’s record of reporting on Iran in recent months, there is nothing remotely surprising about that.

Related Articles:

No wonder BBC WS presenter Razia Iqbal got Iranian threat to Israel wrong

BBC WS airbrushing of the Iranian regime – part one

BBC WS airbrushing of the Iranian regime – part two






Why is BBC Arabic amplifying Syrian regime propaganda?

Readers may recall that some two and a half years ago the BBC got itself into hot water by promoting Assad regime propaganda on its English language website. Two days after the appearance of an article claiming that “Israeli strikes on Syria ‘co-ordinated with terrorists'” the corporation responded to considerable public outcry by amending the headline.

Apparently though, lessons have not been fully learned from that incident.

As has previously been noted here, on August 21st a report appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page amplified a claim promoted by Syrian state TV according to which five men killed in an Israeli strike following a missile attack on northern Israel were “civilians”.BBC Arabic Sana propaganda

BBC Arabic however went even further. In a report dating from August 20th relating to Israeli airstrikes on regime targets in Syria which took place in response the same day’s missile attack on Israel, readers were provided with unadulterated Syrian state news agency propaganda.

“A statement by the agency SANA that the Israeli attacks aimed at “supporting armed terrorist organizations and raise the morale collapsed,” a reference to armed groups in Syria, which is fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime.”

There is of course nothing new about this particular genre of Syrian regime propaganda and Assad himself recently promoted it in an interview with Hizballah TV.

“In an interview with Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar television on Monday, Assad said that Syria would not directly strike back at Israel for the attacks, but would hit Israel by fighting with rebels opposing his rule, whom he claimed were the “servants of Israel.”

“The real tools that Israel is using, which are more important than the recent attacks, they are the terrorists in Syria,” Assad said.

“If we want to deal with Israel, we must first deal with its proxies inside Syria,” he added.”

In the Middle East there are already countless media outlets reporting according to a particular political or ideological agenda. It is supposed to be the job of the BBC – including BBC Arabic and other foreign language services – to distinguish itself from regime-run media by providing audiences with accurate and impartial reporting which will enable them to understand what is fact and what is fiction. Uncritical and unchallenged amplification of obviously delusional Syrian regime propaganda is clearly not conducive to achieving that goal.

Another notable point concerning this BBC Arabic report is that the caption to the main photograph illustrating it states that “The Syrian side of the ceasefire line with Israel is currently witness to frequent clashes”. Readers would naturally therefore assume that the image shows the aftermath of one of those clashes on “the Syrian side of the ceasefire line”.

BBC Arabic Sana art photo

However, the exact same image was used in another BBC article produced on the same day and there it was described as showing northern Israel: “Rockets fired into Israel caused brushfires after hitting open areas near Galilee” [sic].

BBC Arabic Sana cf photo

One of those captions is obviously inaccurate and misleading.

Related Articles:

BBC promotes Assad propaganda in Syria reports

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ promotes more Syrian regime propaganda

Michael Totten takes on a BBC headline

No BBC follow up on PIJ cell it promoted as ‘civilians’

As readers no doubt recall, on August 21st the BBC promoted a claim aired on Syrian state TV according to which the people killed in an Israeli strike on members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell which fired four missiles into Israel the previous day were “five civilians”.

On August 23rd Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that the five men were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Syria and residents of the Al Wafdin refugee camp north-east of Damascus. The report named the men as Mohammed Taysir Shehadeh, Yousuf Fathi al Hatib, Abdo Hishan, Mohammed Hishan and Jiat Abu Aishe, adding:

“On Syrian state television it was claimed that the vehicle targeted by the IDF was a civilian vehicle belonging to residents of the Quneitra district. However a check of the vehicle’s licence plate, number 494882, indicates that it belongs to the Damascus district which is known to host the headquarters of the Islamic Jihad and the headquarters of Iran’s liason with the Syrian intelligence.”

Despite having promoted the PIJ’s denial of involvement in last week’s missile fire on Israeli civilian targets and subsequently having also amplified the claim regarding “civilians” made on Syrian state TV, the BBC has to date shown no sign of having carried out any further investigation into this story in order to present its audiences with accurate information which would improve their understanding of the story.