Propaganda Alert: Madaya Media Fabrications, Recycled Photos

I live in Tayr Filsey, not Madaya, and I am fine.

— Marianna Mazeh: “Starving Syria child” revealed as south Lebanon girl

This is a brief article with the intent of merely alerting people to the latest campaign to demonize the Syrian government and army, and also at the same time to depict the terrorists inhabiting Madaya as somehow noble or in the right… as somehow not the human shielding terrorists that they, in fact, are. Madaya is the new Yarmouk. [See this post regarding the lies and propanda that were put forth in the exact same manipulative manner on Yarmouk previously. I will be writing an update on Yarmouk, which I visited in December 2015, soon.]

RT journalist on the ground now in Madaya updates on Twitter: Murad Gazdiev (January 11, 2016):

  • More on : military sent 42 tons of food there on 27 november. All of it was seized by Islamist rebels; the (sic) are reselling aid
  • #madaya civilians say rebels charged 100,000 SP ($250) for kilogram of rice
  • Many #madaya civilians weeping for joy at finally leaving this place. Say #ISIS in town, fight together with rebels
  • Fleeing #madaya civilians blame rebels for cruelty, theft..
  • About two dozen journalists here. Can’t see any Western press. Strange, given how worried they were about #madaya

See also his RT report, which includes: “Just passed by first aid trucks bound for . Water&flour. Judging by lack of markings, this is govt aid …Another fully loadef (sic) govt food aid truck going in to . Looks like rice or flour. …”

January 11, 2016 updates include:

13941019000562_photoiImage from Fars News

Madaya Basics:

— Village in hills NW of Damascus, near the Lebanese border

— Occupied for many months by approximately 600 terrorists (60% Ahrar al-Sham, 30% Jebhat al-Nusra, and 10% “FSA”) hold the village (according to a recent Hezbollah statement)

— Residents number approximately 23,000, not the 40,000 being reported in MSM and social media (the same trick of inflating the numbers was used in the propaganda campaign on Yarmouk last year) (according to the Hezbollah statement)

— On October 18, 2015, the Red Cross delivered supplies to Madaya. ICRC statement here: (ICRC cannot confirm info being published re Madaya. ICRC was, however, able to bring medical and food supplies to Madaya, Zabadani, Foua and Kafarya in mid-October, 2015. ICRC concerned also very much about Foua and Kafarya, “where the people are telling us the same thing: they are lacking food, they have not been eating proper meals for months, they lack medicine…”)

— At the end of December 2015, the ICRC, UN and SRC evacuated wounded from Madaya (no mention was made of “starving residents”)

— Residents have staged protests against the terrorists, demanding that they be allowed to access food and supplies. They have also staged demonstrations in support of the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army.

— Residents complain that the terrorists have taken food sources and are selling it at extortionist rates. In this clip, an elderly man (89) complains of the terrorists’ selling goods at highly-inflated prices, calls them thieves, says they “slaughtered our children, slaughtered our people…”

December 28, 2015, Madaya:

rcSyrian Republic: Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the UN went into ‪#‎Madaya‬ on 28 December 2015 . Under UN deal they evacuated the wounded terrorists. But they didn’t report any ‘starving children’.”

Photographs have been circulated, recycled from other propaganda campaigns and even from other countries, alleging to be Madaya. This has been done on social media but also by so-called news outlets like VICE, and particularly by Qatar’s propaganda site, Al Jazeera. For example, Paul Antonopoulo noted:

However, the case of Madaya was not reduced to one southern Lebanese girl, the propaganda was far and wide. Al-Jazeera published a photo of a man supposedly starved in Madaya, which turns out to be a photo of a refugee in Europe from 2009.

paulfrom Paul’s article on al Masdar News

More on the blatant manipulation and recycling of photos here: Fact Check on Madaya Reporting

Foua, Kafarya, Nubl, al-Zahraa… Don’t Exist??

On the other hand, two villages in Syria’s north, north of Idlib, have been surrounded by western-backed terrorists since 2011, and locked-down under siege since early 2015. Western and Gulf media have paid scant notice to the very real suffering of Kafarya and Foua (their lack of food, medical supplies, fuel…and the terrorist-fired rockets and mortars on the villages).

As Vanessa Beeley noted:

In Kafarya and Foua 1700 have died since 2011, 300 since March 2015. In Kafarya and Foua, Red Cross have not been allowed in by the “moderate rebel” brigades, the same brigades occupying #Madaya.

I wrote earlier on Foua and Kafarya.  (See Part One, Part Two)

This is an exceptionally-informative interview with Vanessa Beeley on Madaya and media lies:

Likewise, the villages of Nubl and al-Zahara have gotten no coverage in western or gulf media. Fars News noted:

A look at the besieged regions of Kafria and Foua’a regions in Idlib province as well as al-Zahra and Nubl in Northwest of Aleppo province that are totally ignored by the Arab and western media shows that they aren’t concerned about the humanitarian crises or human rights issues at all since these Shiite-populated towns have been besieged for years and photos show that the residents of Foua’a have resorted to eating grass and herbs, but the Saudi-led and western media outlets are mum. The Syrian army has several times tried to airdrop flour bags and bread to them after going through the terrorists’ intensive fire. The Arab and western media have not released even one single report on the situation of these regions’ residents.

The Saudi-affiliated and western media streams which enjoy abundant financial and technical possibilities compared with the resistance media have been playing with their audience’s sentiments and cover reports based on their owners’ desires and interests, while the least important issue for them is human rights.

Finally, the situation in Foua’a, Kafria, al-Zahra and Nubl as well as Madaya is for real vital, but the terrorists are the main culprits behind the situation and they are supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey….

In his December 2, 2015 article “War Propaganda and the Dirty War on Syria“, Professor Tim Anderson wrote:

War propaganda often demands the abandoning of ordinary reason and principle, and the Dirty War on Syria demonstrates this in abundance. A steady stream of atrocity stories – ‘barrel bombs’, chemical weapons, ‘industrial scale’ killings, dead babies – permeate the western news on Syria. These stories all have two things in common: they paint the Syrian President and the Syrian Army as monsters slaughtering civilians, including children; yet, when tracked back, all the stories come from utterly partisan sources. We are being deceived.

*****

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‘Starving Syria child’ revealed as South Lebanon girl1

BEIRUT: The family of a south Lebanon girl depicted in a photo that went viral alleging to show a starving child from a besieged Syrian border town has expressed anger over the incident.

“They took it too far this time,” Rosine Mazeh, the grandmother of 7-year-old Marianna Mazeh, told Al-Jadeed from their village of Tay Filsey in a report broadcast Saturday.

She said the photo of her smiling brown-haired, blue-eyed granddaughter was originally posted to Facebook three years ago and had been doctored several times in the past by individuals promoting different causes.

Most recently, the photo was circulated in a side-by-side with images depicting a skeletal figure said to be suffering from malnutrition as a result of a Syrian army siege in the town of Madaya, located several kilometers east of Lebanon’s border.

Several other photos circulating on social media and picked up by some international news agencies that alleged to show starvation from the town have also been revealed as fakes.

“It has affected her a lot,” Mazeh said. “Every time someone brings it up she puts her head down and becomes shy. At school, they keep on talking about the topic. She’s not comfortable with it at all.”

Abdel-Wahhab Mazeh, the girl’s uncle, said the photo was taken outside a mini market in their village where she had gone to buy chewing gum.

“When we saw this, we tried as hard as we could to show that this picture wasn’t right,” he told Al-Jadeed, pointing to a location on the ground where he said she was standing when the photo was taken.

The girl and her father spoke during a separate report broadcast Saturday on Al-Manar from outside their home.

“I live in Tayr Filsey, not Madaya, and I am fine,” she said.

  1. Daily Star, January 9, 2016 []

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. Read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva's website.