On January 10th an article was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the headline “US to expel every last Iranian boot from Syria – Pompeo”.
“The US will work with allies to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.
Mr Pompeo warned there would be no US reconstruction aid for areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its proxies had left.”
Most versions of that report go on to include a section headed “Why did Pompeo mention Iran?” in which BBC audiences are told that:
“Iran, alongside Russia, has been supporting the Syrian government in the Syrian civil war, providing arms, military advisers, and reportedly combat troops.” [emphasis added]
The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word ‘reportedly’ is as follows:
“According to what some say (used to express the speaker’s belief that the information given is not necessarily true)”
Apparently therefore we can conclude that the BBC is of the opinion that the articles in British papers such as the Telegraph and the Guardian along with reports from media outlets in other countries and agencies such as Reuters about the presence of Iranian troops and militias in Syria are not necessarily true.
And it would seem that in the BBC’s view the work done by researchers at a variety of think-tanks on that topic – such as the Washington Institute, the Atlantic Council, the FDD and the Carnegie Endowment – all hinges on information that is not necessarily true.
“Based on a meticulous reading of press reports of funeral services held in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon for Shia foreign fighters killed in Syria and Iraq, 535 Iranian nationals were killed in combat in Syria between January 2012 and January 2018. In comparison, at least 841 Afghan, 112 Iraqi, 1,213 Lebanese, and 153 Pakistani Shia foreign fighters were killed fighting in Syria during the same period.”
The BBC’s public purposes oblige it to “provide accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”. Clearly that obligation is not met when the BBC unnecessarily qualifies information that has been in the public domain for years – and especially when that qualification dovetails with Iran’s long-standing policy of claiming that its presence in Syria is solely in an ‘advisory’ capacity.