UK outlets parrot Syrian gov’t propaganda that IDF ‘killed family of four’

A Jan. 23rd article in The Scotsman on reports of a recent Israeli air attack on Syrian military targets is titled “Four die as Israel fires missiles at Syria“, a headline, as the opening sentences make clear, based entirely on the Syrian state media:

“Israeli war planes fired four missiles towards central Syria…killing a family of four – including two children…and wounding four other people, state media reported.

An Jan. 23rd article published in The Herald (of Scotland) was headlined “Family of four killed in Israeli airstrike” was almost identical.

The Express and Star and Shropshire Star (two regional British evening papers owned by the same company) published articles that same day titled “Israeli missiles ‘killed family of four‘” which weren’t substantively different than the articles in The Scotsman and The Herald.

Finally, the i newspaper (a British daily owned by the Daily Mail) published a piece titled “Israeli missiles ‘kill family‘” which mirrored the previous four pieces.

First, as we alluded to above, all these outlets base their (print) articles exclusively on an article from SANA, an outlet controlled by the Syrian Ministry of Information, titled “Military source: Four citizens of one family martyred in Israeli aggression on Hama“, which opened with these sentences:

A family of four persons martyred and another number of civilians including children were injured in the Israeli aggression that targeted the vicinity of Hama on Friday morning which also caused the destruction of four houses.

The Israeli air aggression claimed the lives of a family of two parents, two children and injured four others in addition to the destruction of three houses on the western side of Hama, a military source told SANA in a statement.

As you can see, not only did these British outlets rely entirely on the Syrian state media, but on an anonymous Syrian military official.

It gets worse.

All British media outlets omitted a report published that same day by the widely cited UK-based NGO, Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR), which concluded that the civilians were killed by “debris from one of the Syrian anti-aircraft defence missiles that fell on a house in a densely populated neighbourhood”.

In contrast to the British outlets, an Associated Press (AP) report on Israel’s attack on Syrian targets included the information from SOHR:

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group that tracks Syria’s civil war, said the strikes targeted five posts for Iran-backed fighters based within Syrian army positions.

It said the posts were destroyed, adding that parts of one of the air defense missiles fell on a residential area, causing the casualties among civilians.

So, contrary to reports in The Scotsman, The Herald, Express and Star, Shropshire Star and i newspaper, there is literally zero credible evidence that Israeli missiles killed a family of four in Syria, and all ignored evidence that Syria’s own missiles were likely responsible.

We’ll be complaining to editors at these outlets on these extraordinarily misleading claims.

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