Jim Naureckas of an organization called Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which cares about fairness, and accuracy, in reporting, is curiously convinced that when activists on the ground in Syria say that “None of the areas targeted” by Russia’s bombing campaign “were controlled by IS,” that they are in fact lying. To prove this, Naureckas cites an article from the French wire service AFP, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an organization FAIR’s own writers concede they would not normally cite as an authoritative source on Syria, indicating that Islamic State militants “shot dead seven men in Rastan.”
Aha! The title of the post makes much of this: “No ISISWhere Russia Is Bombing – Except Last Week, When ISIS Was Killing Gay MenThere?” Except, again: There were activists, on the ground, with no apparent incentive to lie, stating quite clearly: “None of the areas targeted” – including “Zafaraneh, Rastan, Talbiseh, Makarmia and Ghanto” – were controlled by IS.
“We have been exposed to a wide range of weapons over the last five years, but what happened today was absolutely the most violent and ferocious, and the most comprehensive in the northern Homs countryside,” a doctor in the town of Rastan told Reuters. Eleven people died, he said, including three children and their dad, when their home was demolished by a Russian ordinance. “It was as if the house never was.”
FAIR doesn’t get around to mentioning such casualties, concerned as it is with proving that the Russians government was telling the truth when it asserted that those it bombed were members of ISIS. It even uses a photo of ISIS executing men accused of homosexuality from another source it would never normally cite, The Daily Mail, to suggest again that the activists are liars – though the photo is from months before, in another city that is not Rastan.
I choose to believe the activists and the doctor who tried to save the lives of those killed as a result of imperialist air power. I choose to believe the article cited by FAIR’s own writer that notes that the “dominant factions in Talbiseh and the nearby town of al-Rastan are tied to the Free Syrian Army,” not the Islamic State. But if FAIR wants to go with SOHR? Sure, let’s go with them. Per Reuters: “While Russia says its raids on Wednesday targeted the Islamic State group, locals in the opposition-held area say the jihadist group has no presence in the region – echoing the assessment of a U.S. official and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.”
Perhaps, in the name of fairness, and accuracy, Naurecakas should amend the post with a devastating correction, as he did one of the last times he wrote about Syria and claimed a regime chemical weapons attack was a false flag. Perhaps, I would suggest, he stop writing about Syria altogether.