On February 7th the BBC News website published an article concerning Syrian regime claims of an Israeli attack on a military site in Syria. Although the story has nothing to do with the civil war that has been raging in Syria for almost seven years, the BBC (not for the first time) chose to use a headline which suggests the contrary: “Syria war: Israel ‘strikes Damascus military complex’“.
“Israeli warplanes have fired missiles at a Syrian military position near the capital, Damascus, Syrian media report.
A Syrian military statement said its air defence systems blocked most of the missiles, but gave no further details.
A monitor said ammunition depots in Jamraya were hit. It is the location of a scientific facility where the West suspects chemical weapons are produced.”
Readers were told that:
“Israel, which has acknowledged carrying out at least 100 clandestine strikes in Syria since 2011, declined to comment.
Many of the Israeli strikes are believed to been aimed at preventing transfers of advanced weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.
The Iran-backed group fought a war with Israel in 2006 and has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.”
However, as has repeatedly been the case in the past, the BBC did not bother to identify the parties transferring “advanced weapons” to Hizballah or to clarify the fact that Hizballah is a terrorist organisation rather than just a “movement” or a “group”. Neither did the article supply essential context by informing readers that such transfers of weapons are expressly forbidden under the terms of UNSC resolution 1701. The fact that Hizballah initiated the 2006 war is also not clarified to readers.
Obviously those all too regular omissions have a negative effect on reader understanding of this particular story and others.