[Marxism] New York Times Issues Correction on Syrian Rebel Story | The Cable

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Sep 7 07:40:32 MDT 2013

On 9/7/13 1:42 AM, matt wrote:
> Hey Lou,
> This item appears to require registration or login through a social
> network to view, none of which I use.
> If this is the case, would you mind reposting it to the list in full.
> Cheers,
> Matt

New York Times Issues Correction on Syrian Rebel Story
Posted By John Hudson Friday, September 6, 2013 - 4:32 PM Share

An error in a front page article published by The New York Times has 
elicited strong condemnation from supporters of the Syrian opposition on 
Friday for what they see as a misrepresentation of moderate rebels in 
the Syrian conflict.

On Thursday, the Times piece "Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma 
in West" went viral with the help of a gruesome execution video showing 
Syrian rebels reciting a macabre poem before executing seven unarmed 
regime soldiers. The video dominated cable news broadcasts and 
proliferated on social media websites and the Drudge Report. It also 
elicited a response from the State Department and Secretary of State 
John Kerry.

It was a newsworthy in part because it appeared to chip away at claims 
by the Obama administration that the Syrian opposition is largely made 
up of moderate forces. As The Times reported, the rebel commander who 
oversaw the executions in the video, Abdul Samad Issa, received weapons 
from the Western-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC), according to its 

But the Syrian Support Group, a Washington-based advocate for more 
aggressive U.S. intervention in Syria, said Issa and his group, Jund 
al-Sham, has no connection to the Supreme Military Council and never 
did, in a statement to The Cable:

     The article claims that the group has received supplies from the 
SMC command under General Idris, and that its relationship with national 
or international extremist groups is unknown. SSG has spoken to several 
of General Idris's deputy commanders, including Ltc. Musa'ab Saad 
Eldeen, as well as information-gathering contacts in Aleppo and Idlib 
for more information on the group.

     According to all sources, the SMC has no previous or current 
relationship with Jund al-Sham and, contrary to the New York Times 
article, the group is not shown within the SMC's or SSG's delivery 
records as having received supplies from the SMC command. Jund al-Sham 
is independent of the SMC and of extremist groups, operates primarily in 
rural Idlib, and has relied heavily on fuel smuggling to Turkey for its 

Sometime after the SSG issued this statement to The Cable, the Times 
posted a correction to its article noting that the execution video was 
not from this year. In fact, it was "made in the spring of 2012," 
according to a correction at the bottom of the article. In a statement 
to The Cable, the SSG's media director Dan Layman said the correction 
further vindicated the group's point. "The Times just corrected their 
article to show the time stamp on the video was the spring of 2012. 
Before the SMC even existed," said Layman.

Although it's true that the SMC wasn't founded until December 2012, the 
latest version of the Times story says the rebel group received arms 
from the SMC sometime this year, which the Times notes does not 
contradict its story.

"The date of the video has been corrected. The other facts in the 
article and video are not in dispute," Danielle Rhoades Ha, director of 
communication at The Times, told The Cable.

In any event, Layman and other members of the opposition lobby say 
presenting the year-old video in the middle of the Congressoinal debate 
over authorizing war was tendentious. "It really suggests how they're 
willing to sacrifice truth for their own anti-war sentiments," he said, 
referring to the newspaper.

But regardless of when the execution video was made, it still happened, 
and offers a window into how some rebel groups operate or at least 
operated at one point in time. It's also just one of many gruesome web 
videos with unconfirmed origins that have been used by both sides of the 
war for propaganda purposes. You can bet it won't be the last.

Controversy over the video follows another meta-media story surrounding 
Elizabeth O'Bagy, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War cited 
this week by both Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain 
during congressional hearings. In particular, O'Bagy has been cited for 
her Aug. 30 Wall Street Journal column arguing that "moderate opposition 
groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces" of the opposition 
-- a contentious assertion in the debate over whether the U.S. should 
intervene in Syria. What U.S. officials and the the Journal failed to 
mention is that O'Bagy is paid by the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a 
group that lobbies for greater U.S. intervention in Syria on behalf of 
the rebels.

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