Following communication with UK Media Watch, Times of London corrected an April 17th story which erroneously claimed that Syrian air defences responded to an “Israeli missile attack” over Homs that targeted an airbase. As we noted in our post that day, it turned out that a false alarm led to Syrian air defense missiles being fired overnight and there was no fresh attack on Syria of any sort.
#UPDATE Syrian state media retract reports of an overnight missile attack on the central province of Homs, saying a "false alarm" had activated its air defences https://t.co/yxEdxpmmqY pic.twitter.com/FpeLv6Y804
— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 17, 2018
Whilst Times of London was not alone in reporting the initial false claims of an attack, they were the only news outlet we’re aware of which alleged that Israel carried out the “attack”.
The false claim (without ‘scare quotes’) was repeated in the opening paragraph:
However, contrary to these claims, neither Syrian TV nor any other official Syrian state news outlet alleged – before they realized it was a false alarm – that Israel was responsible for the “attack”. Rather, Syrian outlets reviewed by CAMERA’s Arabic researchers merely accused unspecified “terrorists” or “aggressors” of carrying out the raid.
Editors responded to our complaints, and revised the headline, removing all mention of the Israeli “attack”:
Additionally, they deleted the first two paragraphs of the article which detailed the “attack”, and published the following correction:
Unfortunately, the ‘correction’ is not completely accurate, as it still falsely maintains that their initial reports of an Israeli “attack” were based on claims by “Syrian state media”. As we noted, Syrian state media did NOT blame Israel. In fact, other than a few pro-Assad propagandists on Twitter, we were unable to find any official source that made this allegation, and it remains a mystery where exactly the journalists who wrote the article, Catherine Philp and Rhys Blakely, received this false information and why they reported it as if it was a confirmed fact.
The following day, April 18th, we noticed that The Irish News had also published an article falsely alleging an attack on Syria, despite the fact that the claim of an attack of any kind was retracted by Syrian sources the previous day.
Following a complaint by UK Media Watch, and Twitter conversation with their online editor, Irish News retracted the article.
Here’s what you see now when you try to open the link: