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December 04, 2018

Syria - 'Activist' Posts Fake Picture - Fact Checkers Fall For It

The war on Syria brought up dozens of propagandist. Asaad Hanna is one of them. His screeds were published in the disgraced Guardian, on TRT World, Time, AL-Monitor and elsewhere. He is introduces himself as "a Syrian civil society and human rights activist and an economics graduate from Damascus University" and as "a member of the Free Syria Army Northern Division's political office".

Yesterday at 9:46 utc he tweeted a picture:


The Syria Campaign is the U.S. organization that runs the Al-Qaeda clean-up and propaganda squad the White Helmets. It copied the photo from Asaad Hanna's earlier tweet and tweeted it as if it were the original source.

The Syria Campaign Verified account @TheSyriaCmpgn - 14:34 utc - 3 Dec 2018

A brave person took this photo from central Damascus. It shows chained young men being watched by a regime soldier. The photo has gone viral among Syrians with many saying the men were being forcibly conscripted into the army. Is this the safety Assad promises the Syrian people?


The Integrity Initiative, the recently exposed British government financed organization that is supposed to "counter Russian disinformation and malign influence in Europe " and to "improve the technical competence" of journalists "to deal with disinformation" retweeted it.


Other 'fact checkers' also fell for it.

As many other pictures distributed by the propagandists of the fake revolution in Syria the photo is obviously photoshopped.


The distance at which the persons are 'fixed' to the 'chain' does not make sense. And why is the hand of the person with the red sweater in the background on then left in front of the 'chain'? That is physically impossible.


Here is the original.


Even supporters of the opposition denounced this fake.

There have been a number of similar photoshopped pictures (scroll down) in circulation. Most of them are easy to detect. But even the so called "fact checkers" still fall for them.

h/t Tim Hayward

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Posted by b on December 4, 2018 at 9:38 UTC | Permalink


Heartening to see that most of the responses to Asaad Hannaa's tweet and the Photoshopped picture of the men signing up to join the SAA jeered at the pathetic and poorly done attempt to push the fake news of the men being press-ganged into the army within a few hours of the tweet being made.

Things must have come to a head when the propagandists don't even make any effort to ensure their Photoshopping efforts look at least faintly plausible.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 4 2018 12:00 utc | 1

Here is an article that shows how Israel is using annotated satellite photos to justify their attacks on Syria:

Netanyahu definitely has a fixation with eliminating both Iran and Bashar al-Assad.

Posted by: Sally Snyder | Dec 4 2018 14:06 utc | 2

Meanwhile in the real world, Assad has just issued a state pardon for those who didn't join the armed forces, and for opposition fighters who renounced violence. A total of 14,522 have been pardoned.

Posted by: Entropy Wins | Dec 4 2018 14:40 utc | 3

Looking carefully at both images from the twitter source i think that the chained version may be the original and the non-chained seems photoshopped. I am not an expert on this matter so I am not sure.
- The distance between the hands on the chain does make sense if a single long chain is fed through the handcuff bracelets so the people can freely slide along the chain. It would be more practical as only the first and last person needs to be locked at the ends.
- The last person in line looks like being shackled by someone.
- The image with chain has a wider field of view. The image without chain has a few pixels cropped off from all edges. The cropped pixels may still be there though, hidden inside the jpeg block padding data, but the reverse proces of making hidden padding data visibe during processing (when adding the chain) is highly unusual.
- But best proof is perhaps this tweet.

But chain or no chain, it does not really matter. Just an image does not prove a storyline.

Posted by: Joost | Dec 4 2018 15:39 utc | 4

i breathlessly await luke harding's take on this in the guardian.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 4 2018 15:54 utc | 5

i don't see how the tweet provides proof at all.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 4 2018 16:16 utc | 6

When I click on " a donation" the message "This page can’t be found" appears.

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Dec 4 2018 16:18 utc | 7

For "prisoners", the young men are quite relaxed, and so is the "guard" who points his finger and does not grasp any weapon. Moreover, there is a young man in black jacket and red-white sweater ambling to join the queue. The "shackling" looks perfectly voluntary, if not photoshopped, the end of the rope is handed in.

My conclusion is that if the picture is "legit", then the rope is simply voluntarily in the hands of the men in the queue , and the leisurely "shackling" plus a black jacket man who approaches the line show that men are joining the queue without any overt threats. Seeing unruly queues in southern Italy, I would guess that organizing lines may be a problem in Syria. Well, one can see ropes along the queues at our airports.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 4 2018 16:20 utc | 8

BTW, "forcing to join the army" means "compulsory military service" which was the norm in Western countries a generation ago, and it is still present in "allied countries" like Israel, Turkey, Greece, Korea, Georgia, Ukraine etc. Evading the compulsory military service always carries a penalty.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 4 2018 16:31 utc | 9

Did Hanna deactivate his Twitter? Cannot find original tweet.

Posted by: KP | Dec 4 2018 17:06 utc | 10

thanks b... photos can be photoshopped..reading some of this guys comments in the various outlets he has been presented in makes me question the simplicity of his comments.. "Daesh is helping the Assad regime by fighting us, the armed moderate opposition. The relationship between the two should not be in doubt." i guess we are supposed to believe that there was no attempt at regime change by countries like ksa, qatar, uae, turkey and etc, not to mention the usa-uk... i realize how laughable this idea is, but this is what the kid is saying... i suspect the picture is something a lot less maniacal then what he suggests... saying isis or daesh is an assad creation makes no sense knowing how many of these captured, or killed isis folk are from foreign countries, or how turkey was an important transit point for them entering syria...

@7 robert snefjella... why not send b a note, or try again.. that makes no sense on the surface...

Posted by: james | Dec 4 2018 17:15 utc | 11

PB @9--

You omitted the Outlaw US Empire where one must register for selective service despite it's not having been in force for decades. Not doing so can create lots of problems, including arrest.

The recent Zionistan attack on Syria turned out to be an excellent readiness exercise for the newly integrated air defense radar system that chose Pantsirs as the best defensive weapon, downing all missiles and one drone--no S-300 was employed.

In perhaps one of life's bigger ironies, Zionistan's being brought to a standstill thanks to a massive Domestic Violence-based protest, but omits mention of the Palestinian Genocide. The treatment meted out between the two groups is stark to say the least. Where're the IDF snipers killing off these violent Jewish women bent on disrupting Israeli society as they do to Palestinians!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 4 2018 18:08 utc | 12

as one of the debunkers noted: there is no slack to the chain meaning the initial "shackling" would have required the men to basically sit on each other's laps.

my fave response from the usual twitter propagandtards: "typical regime tactic - photoshop a picture so we'll post it and look dumb!"

so we can now add "we're idiots" and bad photoshopping to the list of things these people blame on assad. as opposed to their idiot parents and their failing educational systems.

Posted by: the pair | Dec 4 2018 19:07 utc | 13

A small question: I am not an expert on telling photoshopped pictures from the original ones, but the longest freely hanging segment of the rope seems suspicious, namely, it has extensive nearly straight portions. Can one show that this is not consistent with the principles of mechanics, or conversely, that it is? The curvature should be described by the equation of the catenary curve? My own course on that happened long time ago but I will try to plot the equation for the amusements and edification of the sophisticated readers of MoonOfAlabama.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 4 2018 20:51 utc | 14


Perhaps the longest section is under tension. OTOH, assuming equal lengths, the chain between those closest to each other should hang, but do not and appear to be straight. So perhaps the chains length between the men are unequal and all under tension. Seems unlikely to me.

Posted by: Pft | Dec 5 2018 4:36 utc | 15

re jen 1, The is cumpulsory military service in Syria, i.e. conscription for the war. The soldiers aren't free volunteers. But those who didn't want to fight deserted. I know a number of Syrians who did that. Before the war, the army was enormous, and little motivated to fight. Now it is small and reduced to the bone, but now they are experienced and ready to fight.

Posted by: laguerre | Dec 5 2018 5:55 utc | 16

speaking of the disgraced guardian
not the first time they have used lies from this convicted slanderer villavicencio.
i'll try to post a link to this at the guardian itself, but they mod a lot of my comments these day (shocking, i know).

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 5 2018 6:44 utc | 17

"Press-ganging" as I called it @ 1 or impressment and compulsory military service are two rather different practices. Impressment includes the random seizure of people as military recruits at short notice or no notice at all. Impressment by the British navy of US citizens working on US merchant ships in the early years of the 19th century was one of the causes of the War of 1812: the US had had enough of British seizure of its own citizens to the extent that US maritime trade with other countries was being damaged (perhaps deliberately so by the British).

In Syria, men are conscripted into the army at the age of 18 years but men can apply for exemptions if they can demonstrate that they have no older brothers who can care for their parents while they are away.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 5 2018 7:31 utc | 18


Perhaps the longest section is under tension. Posted by: Pft | Dec 4, 2018 11:36:56 PM | 15

"Tension" can make a rope segment more straight, with smaller tension, more slack, but if the static model is applicable, then the shape should be similar to a part of the plot of 2 cosh(x) = exp(x)+exp(-x), and it does not seem to be the case. OTOH, static model perhaps does not apply because the suspicious segment is between a man who walks up and a man who stands behind him. But pulling a rope creates a wave, so I think that the shape we see there does not correspond to the laws of physics but to difficulties of drawing it without a proper French curve and a background in physics.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 5 2018 7:52 utc | 19

Excellent work. This is the best way to expose lying propaganda.

I also noticed that the banners in the top right hand corner did not show Assad or the Syrian flag. I suspect they might be old banners of the King of Jordan when he had a beard, the bottom half of which has been fudged over but they didn't bother trying for a mouth. The flag on the right could be the Jordanian flag with the red triangle washed out with age.

Then there are the shop signs, some of which are not in Arabic.

I'd be interested to know what was going on in the van. It reminds me of the old Xray vans which once toured our Australian suburbs and schools taking free Xrays to identify those with tuberculosis.

Posted by: Fitzhenrymac | Dec 5 2018 8:01 utc | 20

Fitzhenrymac @ 20: That poster in the top right-hand corner looks a bit like a portrait of Hafez al Assad who was President of Syria from 1971 to 2000.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 5 2018 12:15 utc | 21

How come NATO wasn't asked to bomb the UAE??

Posted by: Mina | Dec 5 2018 14:32 utc | 22

good blog. tanks for share.

Posted by: بهترین سیستم مدیریت محتوا | Dec 6 2018 7:37 utc | 23

Just what is that rope or chain attached to on the men? Maybe crazy-glued to the wrist?

If one is shackled or handcuffed one does not walk with one's arms at one's sides.

Obviously a fake photo.

Posted by: jrkrideau | Dec 6 2018 12:20 utc | 24

This one's easy enough to clearly decode as a fake, without any fancy calculations or digital pixel enlargement equipment, if your practical or have ever worked in construction. Firstly, an open staircase such as the one in this picture would more likely than not have had a potable safety hand rail attachable to it. That this one clearly did with a chain stretched between a vertical post in line with the first step and one at the beginning edge of top landing platform (both marginally digitally airbrushed out)is evident by the stress on the chainlink rail. Notice that just behind the wrist of the guy dressed in orange standing on top of the platform the chain link railing slants down in a straight line to guy on the stairs just behind him in the black coat. Notice his hand is cupped as his's holding onto it and putting pressure on it (while the guy behind him is not holding on to it). after which the chain goes in a straight line again to a vertical point straight up from the first step, at which point the second vertical post has also been digitally removed. After that you can see that the chain is poorly drawn onto the next guys wrist in red pants and after that just as poorly to the others lining up. You can also still see faint traces of the top vertical post left in a thin green line on the guys pant leg. Just take a ruler or straight edge to all the points I just mentioned and you can see clearly it's consistent with a chain hand rail made taught by the pressure the guy in the black coat is putting on it. Any amateur digital photo shopper would have figured out exactly how and why this photo is an obvious hoax in under a minute. The fact that it fools anyone is a testament to how many people allow themselves to be told what to see, just like when the towers on 911 disappeared into dust clouds drifting up into the atmosphere leaving next to nothing left falling back onto the ground.

Posted by: RayB | Dec 12 2018 5:18 utc | 25

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