Early on the morning of September 2nd a report appeared on the BBC News website under the headline “Syria blasts at Mezzeh military airport ‘not Israeli strikes’“. BBC audiences were told that:
“Syria has denied reports that a series of blasts at a military airport near Damascus on Sunday were from Israeli air strikes, state media say.
The loud blasts, reported at the Mezzeh airport, were caused by an explosion at a munitions dump, Sana news agency said, citing Syrian military sources.
The incident was the result of an electrical fault, the agency added. […]
The airport is believed to house Syrian Air Force intelligence.”
Readers were not informed that the same site is also believed to house facilities used by Iranian forces and Shiite militias under the command of the IRGC.
Having told readers that the Syrian military says that Israel has no connection to the incident, the BBC’s 269 word report went on to amplify versions of the story contradicting that statement which were attributed to an anonymous “official in the regional alliance backing the Syrian government” and a “monitoring group” based in the UK.
Curiously, the BBC decided to devote over 35% of a report on an incident it had told readers was unrelated to Israel to listing alleged and acknowledged Israeli actions.
“Israel has launched air strikes against Syria in the past and was accused of targeting Mezzeh airport last year. […]
In May, Israel said it had attacked Iranian military infrastructure in Syria following what it said was an Iranian rocket attack on Israeli-held territory.
The following month, Israel said it had shot down a Syrian warplane which entered its airspace – a rare incident between the two foes.
In January last year, Syrian state media quoted the army as saying that several rockets had landed at the Mezzeh airport compound, accusing Israel of bombarding the area.” [emphasis added]
The first of those links leads to a BBC report dated May 9th which was discussed here. That report does not relate to events “following” the Iranian rocket attacks which actually took place on May 10th.
The second link leads to a BBC report from July 24th – obviously not “the following month” – which was discussed here before its headline was amended.
The incident referred to in that final paragraph – which took place on January 13th 2017 – was discussed here.
Notably, the BBC refrained from informing readers of this article of the context of Iranian weapons supplies to the terror group Hizballah and the build-up of Iranian forces in Syria.
The fact that Mezzeh airbase was among the sites in Syria linked to the regime’s chemical weapons programme that were attacked by the US, the UK and France in April 2018 was likewise omitted from this report.
What do BBC audiences know about the background to tensions in northern Israel?
Iran missile attack: BBC News promotes misinformation
Iranian propaganda goes unchallenged on BBC radio – part one
Iranian propaganda goes unchallenged on BBC radio – part two
BBC Radio 4 reframes last month’s Iranian attack on Israel
BBC News report on Syrian plane interception won’t say where it happened
In which BBC News manages to avoid Syrian propaganda for a change
BBC’s Bowen tells WS listeners Israel bombs Syria ‘regularly’