Is This A War Correspondent’s Brian Williams Moment?
A Daily Beast expose published Wednesday accused an Irish war correspondent of lying about witnessing the massacre of Syrian Christians on the outskirts of Damascus.
Written by journalist Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, the lengthy article charges Patrick Cockburn, a correspondent for The Independent, of falsifying a claim in his book, “The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.”
Cockburn claimed Jabhat al-Nusra militants raided homes and killed minorities.
“In Adra on the northern outskirts of Damascus in early 2014, I witnessed [Nusra] forces storm a housing complex by advancing through a drainage pipe which came out behind government lines, where they proceeded to kill Alawites and Christians,” wrote Cockburn.
But when Cockburn originally detailed the purported Adra massacre in an article for The Independent, he took the perspective of arriving after it happened. Cockburn interviewed a Syrian soldier who supposedly witnessed the event but was unable to verify specific details.
“The Adra story was briefly reported on before disappearing in a swirl of contradictory claims,” wrote Ahmad. “Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have no record of it. The Russian broadcaster RT covered it, but used fake pictures, which it subsequently had to withdraw.”
Ahmad accuses Cockburn of relying heavily on sources tied to Bashar al-Assad, portraying the regime as a primary opponent to the Islamic State and potential partner for Western forces, rather than as a perpetrator of heinous crimes against the Syrian people.
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