Case study 5: Film images as an alternative to real-life stories

On April 22, 2018, Dmitry Kiselyov’s Weekly News program on Russian TV Россия 1 aired a story, according to which President Assad actually did not use chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, 2018. The same story claims that the video footage was simply staged. To prove its version, the story provides an interview with Pares Muhammad Maiiasa, who is referred to as a former rebel fighter from Jaysh al-Islam, a coalition of Islamist rebel units involved in the Syrian Civil War. The respondent claims that he served as an assistant director during filming a fake story on staged attack. The interview is accompanied by a number of images depicting filming location, filmmakers and actors. According to the story, the actors depicted the victims of chemical attacks.

In reality, the footage used in the story that was aired in 2018 was recorded in 2016 and it represents a compilation of images from a filming location.
The filmmaking was launched by Humam Husari, Syrian-born filmmaker who returned from the Great Britain in 2016. It shows real-life stories of the victims of the 2013 sarin gas attack near Damascus.
The images used in the story aired by the Russian TV channel were first circulated by the Chinese online news agency Global Times on September 19, 2016.