War between the media and the truth

by Viktor Litóvkin, military expert

First it was the turn of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accusing Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria. Over time, other related events have taken over the pages of newspapers and television channels worldwide. But to what extent is international media presenting concrete data and helping to resolve the issue?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently accused Russia of sending helicopter gunships to Syria. According to the U.S., the vehicles would be used by official troops against the population.  Although Hillary has not cited any specific fact, the news spread worldwide and has been heavily annotated by the major media outlets.

Shortly thereafter, however, it was found that Russia was not sending any such weapon to Syria.  Even the spokesman for the Pentagon had to admit that the news circulated by the head of American diplomacy did not correspond to the truth. Even so, the Secretary of State has not found it necessary to make a public apology. According to her publicist, Hillary Clinton did not say new aircraft, but those sent back to Syria after having gone for a repair.

Final version

In fact, the situation is as follows: Syria has around one hundred helicopters, Mi-8 and Mi-17 (updated version of the previous).

Experts know that Mi-8/17 are cargo helicopters. Although it can be transformed into a combat helicopter that is equipped with machine guns and unguided missiles, it is the responsibility of the buyer.

Accusing the government of Moscow of contributing to the "killing of Syrian citizens" is to blame them for what is beyond their control.

It is worth remembering, for example, that the U.S. provides weapons (worth U.S. $5-7 billion per year) to its Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, knowing full well that their arms fall straight into the hands of the Syrian opposition.

Conflict Media

U.S. arms are used with increasing frequency in the massacres perpetrated not only against the followers of President Assad, but also against Christians, as in Homs.

Although the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has spoken publicly about this matter, the statement went unnoticed by the international media, who took turns to unveil the "aggressive plans of the Russians."

"U.S. intelligence believes that Russia has sent a ship to defend its naval logistics base in the Syrian port of Tartus," the television network CNN said.

According to images captured by reconnaissance satellites, the ship "Nikolai Fílchenkov" would have been loaded at the port of Sevastopol on June 7th and was heading toward Tartus. The missing detail is that while this "news" circulated in American media, the "Fílchenkov" was the still at the port of Sevastopol, where it remains up until today.

Still, the disinformation campaign continues. The last days have been marked by reports that Russian vessels with helicopters were intercepted on the Scottish coast and Russian warships of the Black Sea Fleet are about to perform specific missions in the Syrian port of Tartus, among many other things.

The only truth, however, is that in a country torn by civil war, any military exercises are unthinkable. The Ministry of Defence, after a long silence, said what was already clear: there is no intention of interfering in the conflict.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova

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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey