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'Rescuers' traded blood for photo op

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

054. On the evening of Aug. 17, 2016, an event that has yet to be adequately explained occurred in the Qaterji District of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Four-year-old Omran Daqneesh, as well as his siblings and parents, were injured in media alleged was an attack by the Russians - or the Syrian military, depending on what source one chose to believe. People in Aleppo suggested it could have been a strike by the US-led coalition.

The reality is not yet known. The attack also claimed the life of Omran’s 11-year-old brother, Mohammad Ali Daqneesh.

Overnight, the world was introduced to Omran, who became the poster child of suffering in Syria due to extensive coverage by Western corporate media. The al-Qaeda-affiliated 'White Helmets,' and subsequently the media, made the child’s injuries out to seem far more serious than they actually were.

CNN anchor Kate Bolduan “broke down” over a photo of the boy that was likely taken and propagated precisely to elicit such emotion.

Video footage of Omran showed him seated in an ambulance, blank-faced and barefoot with blood drying on his face. The world was collectively heartbroken at seeing Omran - but was also misled about his story.

Most Western media blamed the Russians for Omran’s injuries - but some media outlets, including The Guardian, claimed that he’d been hit by a Syrian airstrike.

For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry denied allegations regarding Russia’s involvement in the incident. As Tim Anderson wrote at the time, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the Russian Air Force “never work[s] on targets within residential areas … [especially not in] al-Qaterji, mentioned by the Western media, as it is adjacent to the exit corridors for locals which were opened in the framework of the Russian humanitarian mission.”

Both Western and Gulf media would rehash the story of his injury in the coming weeks and months, but also omit some key facts in the process.

The source of the video footage showing Omran being put in the ambulance was the Aleppo Media Centre (AMC), which is funded by the West and promotes the “rebel opposition” narrative in Syria, relying on al-Qaeda sources. The journalists who took the video and photos are embedded in al-Qaeda-controlled areas.

Mahmoud Raslan, the photographer responsible for the viral photo of Omran, is known to be close to terrorists of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki faction, who are most widely known for their methodic beheading of Palestinian child Abdullah Issa in July 2016. After Issa’s slaughter, photos emerged of a grinning Raslan taking a selfie with some of the al-Zenki murderers.

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