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The Truth About #OmranDaqneesh #Syrianboy Viral Photo

Inside see Syrian Girl's excellent video report on how the media has played reporting on Syria, using children's photos. She really explains the details well and her video contains footage that I have not seen before and new information.


Here is an account of how the ABC's Sophie McNeill uncritically facebooked and tweeted Mahmoud Raslan's photos of Omran Dagneesh. Raslan was exposed as fraternising with beheaders. She later tweeted some rehabilitating new quotes.

Relevant section in transcript of interview with Max Blumenthal:

NOOR: Can you talk a bit more about how the Syria Campaign has done that, specifically, how they’ve affected reporting on the Syrian conflict, itself?

BLUMENTHAL: One incident was really telling and this was the incident of the famous Omran photo. This photo is really touching. It shows a five-year old boy, Omran Daqneesh, who’s been taken out of a building that had been bombed, probably by Syrian war planes in Eastern Aleppo, or perhaps Russian airplanes. He’s positioned inside an ambulance with his face caked in ash and blood to be photographed and videotaped. That video and those photographs were immediately relayed to western media. One of the organizations that captured the video first was the Aleppo Media Centre, which is also run from outside Syria by the Syrian ex-patriots network. One of the first reporters to reproduce it was Sophie McNeill from the Australian Broadcast Corporation. And the image of Omran went viral.

Next we saw the Syria Campaign furnish quotes by the videographer and photographer who took that video, Mahmoud Raslan, who is from the Aleppo Media Centre. So, there’s a clear connection here to the Syria Campaign, furnishing that video and those photographs to western media. Sophie McNeill takes to Facebook and says, “A lot of people are wondering what they can do. It’s not just enough to cry over the photo of Omran. What you have to do is listen to James Sadri.” Who happens to be the strategy director of the Syria Campaign. And in listening to James Sadri, you basically have to call for a no-fly zone. Which is what Sadri called for in his interview with Sophie McNeill. McNeill was essentially a mainstream, supposedly, objective reporter, endorsing a no-fly zone. Which, as I’ve explained, means regime change. This led to this photograph of a boy, being used as fodder for a very politicized campaign for moving the Syrian government. Many people might want that but the agenda needs to be out in the open.

After this photograph came out, The Canary, which is a left-wing, British website, revealed photographs of Mahmoud Raslan taking selfies of himself with the Nour al-Din al-Zenki rebel group. These were selfies where he’s posing, sort of, triumphantly with various commanders. Two of the commanders he appeared with, in one of those photos, had beheaded an adolescent boy, a Palestinian boy, who may have been a fighter for a pro-Syrian government militia faction. They beheaded him on video. Raslan, had also taken photographs of himself where he’s praising, in his words, the suicide fighters of the al-Zenki battalion as they prepared to break the siege of East Aleppo. He was clearly someone who is a partisan, in support of these rebel factions which are anything but savory. And are basically in control of Eastern Aleppo.

This really presented an embarrassing situation for the Syria Campaign. So, what did they do? They go back and furnish new quotes from Raslan. Which go straight to Sophie McNeill who, dutifully, publishes it on Twitter. I think what this highlights is the cozy relationship so many reporters, I mean McNeill is far from alone, enjoy what this public relations firm, which is funded by a billionaire who helps, really command, the exile-led opposition. And which is really not painting a totally accurate picture of what’s going on in the whole of Syria but they’re dominating the narrative through their media contacts. I think its telling to see the reaction to my piece from a lot of mainstream reporters who cover the Syrian crisis. They’re very upset about it and its because many of them enjoy cozy relationships with the Syria Campaign and they’re not happy to see someone actually scrutinize the public relations firm that’s providing them with their stories and feeding the public on an interventionist narrative.