Al Jazeera misrepresents video of Iranian troops in Syria

A few days ago I posted the video below which recently appeared on Al Jazeera English. EA Worldview now provides additional background on the source of the footage and points out a number of inaccuracies in AJE’s reporting. EAW says: “To date, there has been no confirmed evidence of Iranian commanders overseeing Syrian military operations or of Iranian ground troops fighting on the battlefield.”

This is the Al Jazeera report based on film made by an Iranian documentary maker, Esmail Heydari, who is not identified correctly in the report:

The broadcasts by Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English exaggerated and distorted the videos when they claimed, “The Iranians are the ones calling the shots in [the] war…giving orders where to fight and when….”

Notably, Al Jazeera English does not say that Heydari is a documentary maker, and it wrongly identifies him as a “fighter”, mis-translating at least one of his statements in the raw footage. It uses him, incorrectly, in the highly exaggerated claim, “The video shows just how in control the Iranian fighters are….It is clear once again that Assad’s army has little say about what goes on.”

Later, Al Jazeera English almost certainly makes a further mistake by portraying Heydari as a “Syrian fighter”, asking Iranian officers for a holiday to boost his morale.

Al Jazeera English says a “rebel group posted this video”, but does not identify the faction to indicate why the brigade might have an interest in exaggerating the story of the Iranian presence or to give any context for the brigade’s battles with Shia fighters around Aleppo, or to report that Liwa Dawood overran the military facility where Heydari was on August 22. Al Jazeera also do not report that the group inside the facility overran by Liwa Dawood was not the Syrian Arab Army but a pro-regime Shia faction.

The original videos have been posted on YouTube by Brown Moses: video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4, video 5, and video 6.

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