How A Dubious BBC Report Gave Israel The "Green Light" For Last Night's Attack On Syria

Syrian state television has confirmed that Israel attacked a military base outside of Damascus overnight on Friday, which Israeli media reports involved both surface-to-surface missiles and airstrikes, while Syria says its air defense systems were engaged and intercepted two missiles. Like other recent strikes inside Syria, the Israeli jets reportedly fired from over Lebanese airspace, in order to avoid both Syrian anti-aircraft missile systems and provoking a Russian response. Though the extent of the damage or casualties is not yet known, Syrian media has confirmed material damage to the base, and other reports indicate mass power outages in some of parts of Damascus occurred immediately after the attack, which SANA says happened at 12:30am local time. 

It appears the base is likely the same one featured in a November BBC report which showed satellite images detailing the purported construction and renovation of an "Iranian military base" near El-Kiswah, which lies 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus. As we've noted before, the BBC report was dubiously sourced to "a Western intelligence source" and the story was quickly utilized by Israeli leaders to ratchet up rhetoric in preparing its case before the international community for further attacks on the supposed Iranian targets. Israel has long justified its attacks inside Syria by claiming to be acting against Hezbollah and Iranian facilities and arms depots. 

Image source: SANA

Indeed, BBC itself used ambiguous language in saying the satellite images "seem to show" construction activity at the site referenced by the intelligence source between January and October this year. However, the images don't actually show much at all related to an Iranian military presence, but merely a series of two dozen large low-rise buildings - likely for housing soldiers and vehicles, which would be expected of any state army or sovereign nation.

Furthermore, the very title of the November piece - "Iran building permanent military base in Syria - claim" - underscores the complete lack of evidence for such a claim, which the BBC notes in the article is "impossible to independently verify."

Yet in reporting last night's Israeli strike on Syria, the BBC uncritically referenced its own prior unconfirmed "claim" to paint a picture that Israel is actually taking action against Iran and Hezbollah: "Israel has hit weapons sites before, in a bid to prevent arms being transferred to Syria's Lebanese ally Hezbollah. Arms convoys in particular have been singled out by the Israeli air force." 

And the BBC followed this with:

Last month the BBC revealed a claim that Iran was building a permanent military base near the town. A series of satellite images showed construction at the location of the alleged base, which was made known to the BBC by a western intelligence source.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously warned that Israel would not allow Iran to establish any military presence in Syria.

So it appears the BBC is playing war propagandist for Israel, instead of including any level of critical inquiry regarding Israel's unprovoked act of aggression against its neighbor. In short, the BBC spread what it acknowledged to be a mere "claim" based solely on an unnamed "Western intelligence source". Then Israel used that claim to attack Syria, after which the BBC in circular fashion justified the attack based on its own original dubious "claim".

Israeli media and politicians are currently using BBC published satellite images as "proof" that Israel attacked an "Iranian base" in Syria last night. Image source: BBC

Meanwhile, just about every major Israeli newspaper in today's reporting is prominently featuring the prior BBC report as justification for the latest attack on Syria. The Times of Israel provides one such example among many when it says:

The alleged Israeli attack came three weeks after the BBC reported that Iran was building a permanent military base in Syria just south of Damascus. The British broadcaster commissioned a series of satellite pictures that showed widespread construction at the site.

Or see this op-ed in the Jerusalem Post today which references the BBC report as a watershed moment:

The attack raises several questions. Why wait so long to strike the Iranian base? What did “western intelligence sources” hope to accomplish by publishing information on the Iranian base? Why were the Iranians at the site given time to leave by their base becoming so public? The month’s activity appear to be part of a complex game being waged by Iran to entrench itself in Syria and Israel’s attempts to warn the Iranians off. Whatever was taking place at El-Kiswah had plenty of time to be wrapped up and moved if the Iranians were concerned about it being struck. If the reports about Israel’s threats to target sites between 40-60km from the Golan are accurate then it would indicate that the warnings have been manifested.

And nearly every major Israeli media source is also republishing the BBC satellite images as part of their reporting on the overnight strikes.

As we've long pointed out, anytime that Israel carries out acts of aggression against Syria, it can just blame Iran or Hezbollah and escape international criticism or condemnation. International media and Western governments have already demonstrated a penchant for towing the Israeli line whenever Iran can be conceivably blamed as a culprit - evidence or no evidence - this as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it official Israeli policy to oppose Iranian presence in Syria. 

Yet what key facts do the BBC and others leave out?

On Tuesday Israel's own Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that there are no Iranian military forces in Syria, but instead merely stuck to acknowledging "Iranian experts and advisers". In comments to Israel's Ynet news, Lieberman admitted, "It is true that there are a number of Iranian experts and advisers, but there is no Iranian military force on Syrian land."

Clearly, Defense Minister Lieberman's statement flies in the face of claims made by Netanyahu in his speech before the UN General Assembly this year when Netanyahu said, "We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria... And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border."

In other words, Israel's top military chief very publicly contradicted both Netanyahu's and the BBC's claims of Iranian military bases on Syrian soil, yet the BBC neglected to mention such essential information. Thus, it appears that the mainstream media is preparing us for war... but sadly, this is nothing new.


Déjà view bobcatz Sat, 12/02/2017 - 22:06 Permalink

Israel knows...

"I don't know much about Hitler. Except that last thing, about the Jews. There has never been a country that put its heel down on the Jews that ever lived afterwards."

— Huey Long (Williams p. 761)

U.S. Senator Long...assassinated †1935 State Capitol building Baton Rouge by Dr. Carl Weiss

In reply to by bobcatz

HowdyDoody IH8OBAMA Sat, 12/02/2017 - 15:35 Permalink

On December 1, the UN condemned Israel's occupation of the Syrian Golan and demanded it withdraw. This attack is more likely intended to be a big 'suck on this' from Israel to Syria and the UN.

On the positive side, it looks like the Russians have trained the Syrians to use the recently delivered Buk and Pantsir S1/S2 air defense systems as 3 out 5 of Israel's missiles were shot down.

In reply to by IH8OBAMA

Blankone HowdyDoody Sat, 12/02/2017 - 16:39 Permalink

The stories of shooting down incoming missiles look to be just more fake news to save face. I noted that even Syria only claims they hit two incoming missiles.

Syria also claims they fired their missiles against the incoming jets, with no success.

Putin/Russia has agreed to supply the S400 systems to Saudi Arabia and Turkey - both of which are enemies of Syria. BUT, Putin/Russia has refused to supply the S300/S400 to Syria.

In reply to by HowdyDoody

AllBentOutOfShape ShakenNotStirred Sat, 12/02/2017 - 19:57 Permalink

So you're basically saying that if I don't like you because your mere presence next door to me makes me 'feel' threatened, I can just shoot you dead in cold blood and simply claim self defense?Does this mean that all libtards now have justification to shoot any Trump supporter they come across because they 'believe' all Trump supporters to be racist and dangerous?

In reply to by ShakenNotStirred

East Indian ShakenNotStirred Sat, 12/02/2017 - 21:43 Permalink

Did Iran attack Israel from its "base"? Or has the existence of the base has been proved without doubt?And even if there are Iranian bases in Syria, they could be as illegal as the American bases there. Was there a clear and explicit permission from Syria to Iran to erect these bases, assuming they are indeed there?America has invaded Syria and erected unauthorised bases. If America hits Iran from those bases, whom should Iran attack in retaliation - America or Syria?

In reply to by ShakenNotStirred

ParticularlySt… chunga Sat, 12/02/2017 - 14:47 Permalink

The encapsulated text, the underlying assumption, the truth presented is: "[...] A Dubious BBC Report Gave Israel The 'Green Light[.]'" It didn't. The real story is not the BBC at all. The real story is the actions of the actual elements in command, and those who influence them (the international billionaire).

In reply to by chunga

Radical Marijuana chunga Sat, 12/02/2017 - 17:22 Permalink

"... it appears the BBC is playing war propagandist for Israel, instead of including any level of critical inquiry regarding Israel's unprovoked act of aggression against its neighbor."

Ever since the BBC reported on the collapse of World Trade Building 7 about 20 minutes before it happened, on September 11, 2001, it has been painfully obvious that the BBC had been captured by Zionists. Of course, one could argue that the decisive events in the history of Zionists capturing control over the Anglo-American Empire where when the international bankers captured control over the Bank of England, and later, made the US Federal Reserve Board.After the international bankers capture control over issuing the public "money" supplies as debts, whereby those frauds are enforced by governments, it is only a matter of time until every other sociopolitical institution has its control also captured by its funding. The vicious feedback spirals of the funding of all aspects of the political processes have one of their relatively tiny manifestations in the ways that the BBC serves as propagandist.Since it has become politically impossible to stop the vicious feedback spirals of the combined money/murder systems from becoming worse, faster, "we" are headed toward these kinds of criminally insane consequences, such as Paul Craig Roberts' "Can't You See War On The Horizon?"One may well, as an individual, learn about the degree to which civilization is dominated by Huge Lies, which are maximizing maliciousness, HOWEVER, one still has no practically possible ways to either effectively prevent, nor fully prepare, for the degree to which those developments are unfolding their tragic trajectory at about an exponentially accelerating rate, since everything is operating through fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting systems, especially including, of course, various mainstream mass media, such as the BBC.There is nothing but the dynamic equilibria between different systems of more or less organized lies operating robberies. Furthermore, those are becoming more unbalanced every day, because of the degree to which the combined money/murder systems have been able to dominate every other sociopolitical institution, in ways which have resulted in the ruling classes becoming increasingly psychotic psychopaths, while those they ruled over have become increasingly impotent political idiots.In my view, reading Zero Hedge is like having a front row seat, like riding on the cowcatcher of an accelerating train headed towards being wrecked. Moreover, it is usually the most up-voted comments under various articles which especially emphasize the degree to which that is so ...

In reply to by chunga

Hudis Muffakah chunga Sun, 12/03/2017 - 11:38 Permalink

I hear that a lot too but it's not entirely true. People don't have to keep quiet and often don't. The effectiveness of establishment forces at marginalizing and otherwise silencing those that do speak out is something that has to be overcome. We are making inroads here. Let's keep the heat on these assholes, we may never win, but it's the right side if the fight to be on.

In reply to by chunga

PrivetHedge ShakenNotStirred Sat, 12/02/2017 - 17:22 Permalink

Is this the same Hezbollah military who kicked Israel out in 2006 and since has grown vastly stronger?They have beaten not just you but the American special forces in Syria, what chance does Israel have against them - all the IDF can do is cowardly missile strikes and kill women and children in Gaza.You really have No Idea how pathetic you sound trying to claim you are battle capable, seriously pathetic.

In reply to by ShakenNotStirred

roadhazard Sat, 12/02/2017 - 14:16 Permalink

Israel has said, "no Iranian bases in Syria."  So Iran thinks if they put a base on an existing Syrian base no problem. To top it off it was also a huge ammo dump... BOOM !