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Syrian media activist Hadi al-Abdallah recorded a video yesterday, showing the devastation unleashed on Bustan al-Qaser and Kallaseh, rebel-held parts of Aleppo city, by what he quite clearly referred to as an aerial assault. Given that the only aircraft bombing Aleppo belong to either the Assad regime or the Russian Air Force, the possible culprits behind the killing of at least a dozen civilians, including a small child whose scalp was torn off, exposing the gray matter of his brain, were obvious. Until, that is, Russian propaganda channel RT got a hold of al-Abdallah’s reel and edited out the references to “warplanes” and “Assad,” then pinned the devastation on al-Qaeda.
RT’s Arabic-language website not only stole the media activist’s footage without his permission, it then cut his original commentary to suit its own purpose of trying to blame the violation of a U.S.-Russian brokered “cessation of hostilities” on jihadists not party to the agreement.
Disinformation like this is of a piece with how Moscow’s media surrogates have depicted the Syrian civil war for five years, but especially since Russia’s intervention in conflict last September on behalf of Assad. Still, this cynical distortion of evidence comes amidst a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’s industrial city. Pro-regime airstrikes and rebel artillery shelling have killed 200 people in the last week alone, rendering the international truce obsolete. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, over 60 percent of the fatalities have been on the rebel side.