The last few days of battle for Deir Ezzor were marked by mutliple fake news reports about Syrian aircraft allegedly downed by ISIS near Deir Ezzor city.
On September 17, media activists and media outlets supporting the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as well as the so-called moderate opposition (sic) reported that ISIS “likely” downed a Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) warplane. The incident allegedly took place near Deir Ezzor on September 16. No photos of the crash site have been provided.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted this (LINK):
However, the photo posted by the SOHR was made in Libya in 2016 (LINK).
A smoke in the photo below is likely a result of an air or artillery strike:
— Rami (@RamiAILoIah) 16 September 2017
On September 18, pro-SDF as well as pro-opposition media outlets and activists reported that a helicotper of the SAAF was downded on the western bank of the Euphrates River, near Deir Ezzor city. No photos or videos confirming the claims have been provided.
Furthermore, the both claims have not been reported by the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq.
It’s interesting to note that these reports started appearing after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies broke the ISIS defense near Deir Ezzor city and Deir Ezzor Airport and continued their advance against the terrorist group inside the Deir Ezzor countryside. The September 18 report took place following first reports that government forces crossed to the western bank of the Euphrates.
Considering a questionable situation over the alleged Russian airstrike on the SDF north of Deir Ezzor [the Russian military denies it] on September 16, it’s easy to suggest that we could observe a media campaign aimed at undermining the anti-ISIS effort of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian coalition in the Deir Ezzor countryside.
The media campaign consists of 3 parts:
- Fake news about losses of Syrian forces and their allies [reports about “killed Russian servicemen” expected soon];
- Accusations of civilian casualties and hostile actions towards “forces of the democracy” allegedly made by Syria, Russia or Iran;
- Statements and claims by the SDF that the US-backed force has a right to “legitimate defense” from the SAA and its allies on the western bank of the Euphrates [after claims that the SDF would not allow government forces to corss the river].
This media campaign is ongoing amid the behind the scene negotiations between the US and Russia over a possible division of spheres of responsibility in Deir Ezzor province. The US-led coalition likely believes that media accusations should help it to achieve own goals.