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Aleppo Boy Story: Another Example of White Helmets 'Doing What They're Paid for'

© REUTERS / Mahmoud RslanFive-year-old Omran Daqneesh, with bloodied face, sits inside an ambulance after he was rescued following an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria August 17, 2016.
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, with bloodied face, sits inside an ambulance after he was rescued following an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria August 17, 2016. - Sputnik International
RT has debunked one of the most horrific fakes about Syria, Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said. Radio Sputnik discussed the revelations in the story of the "symbol of Aleppo suffering" boy with political scientist Sergei Zhurakhovsky.

5-year-old Omran Daqneesh and his sister sit in an ambulance after being pulled out of a building hit by an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on Aug. 17, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Thanks to mainstream media, Syrian boy Omran Daqneesh has widely become known as the "symbol of Aleppo suffering."

White Helmets' footage, released in August, showed the boy injured and covered in ashes after being rescued from an attack in the militant-controlled Karm al-Qaterji neighborhood. Syrian anti-government forces accused Russia of conducting an airstrike on the neighborhood, while Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov denied mainstream media reports of Russia’s alleged role in the strike as the residential neighborhood is directly adjacent to the Russian humanitarian operation corridors for the safe exit of local residents.

RT TV channel released a two-part interview with Omran Daqneesh's father Mohammad Kheir Daqneesh on Tuesday and Wednesday. The interview revealed that the White Helmets volunteers had manipulated injured Omran into being photographed instead of offering immediate help and later threatened his father after he went into hiding to prevent any more unwanted media exposure.

RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said the broadcaster could take CNN correspondent and host Christiane Amanpour to Syria to meet Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian boy who was considered by mainstream media to be a symbol of children suffering in Aleppo but was later revealed to have been manipulated by the White Helmets volunteers while his family was threatened.

"Our reporters have debunked one of the worst fakes about Syria. Next time we will bring Christiane Amanpour [to Syria] and everyone else along. But only if they have the heart to talk to Omran and his family," Simonyan said in a statement released by RT.

White Helmets, seen here celebrating with Nusra extremists - Sputnik International
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Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also invited Amanpour to visit Syria's Aleppo to take an interview with the child. The invitation came in response to Amanpour showing the photograph of Daqneesh shot in August in her October interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying that it illustrated "a crime against humanity."

A political scientist, candidate of political sciences Sergey Zhuravsky told Radio Sputnik expressed the opinion that such "fakes" can only be countered with the truth.

"This is a well-known practice of White Helmets and that and similar organizations that constantly use fakes to boost its reputation. Many people understand that this is an organization that works for certain media outlets. Some [media outlets] speak of the 'bloody victims of the Syrian troops,' others provide such "confirmations." So the White Helmets do what they're paid for, and CNN gets ratings and a grateful audience, which is horrified by the victims of war in Syria. Such fakes can only be countered by truth delivered impartially. And the consumer of this information will decide what is good and what is bad," Zhuravsky noted.

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, take a selfie with their certificates after taking part in a training session in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta area, east of the capital Damascus, on November 22, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The Russian Defense Ministry earlier stated that the nature of damage shown by mainstream media during Omran's rescue demonstrates that if the strike did take place, it could not have come from aircraft munitions, but a mine or a gas cylinder, heavily used by terrorists in Syria. The Russian defense ministry's spokesman accused the media of committing a "moral crime" in the "cynical hype" of the volunteers' footage for their "formulaic propaganda material."

This was not the first fake footage provided by the While Helmets. The Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) has accused the White Helmets of falsifying information about their work in Syria, including on the situation in Idlib. According to the activists, the White Helmets staged their so-called "rescue" attempts shown in their videos for purposes of propaganda.

Since then, the organization has enjoyed increased media attention. In February 2017, an eponymous 40-minute documentary about the White Helmets won an Oscar for best documentary short feature.

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