Assad supporters spread false claims on child gas attack victims
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A video showing Syrian children pretending to suffocate and faint has been circulating on social media since April 7 by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. They say this video proves that the chemical attack on the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta was staged by opponents of the Syrian regime. The video was indeed filmed in the Ghouta region – but back in 2013, as part of an effort by local activists to draw public attention to the dangers of chemical weapons. In the original six-minute version of the video, it is clearly explained that the scene is a dramatisation.
The edited version of the video that is currently being shared by Assad supporters is just two minutes long. The first shot shows kids playing with a ball. Behind them, other children are sitting on chairs lined up in a row, as if they are about to watch a performance. Then, when a siren goes off, the children throw themselves on the ground and start writhing around.
Men in white shirts run towards them and pretend to help them breathe with oxygen masks. Towards the end of the video, you can see the kids get up, unharmed, as the audience claps.
"Share this video so that it reaches the Security Council (…) In this staged version, children and fake emergency responders are being taught how to simulate a chemical attack in Douma," reads a post on a Facebook page called Sourya alhadath (see below).
"A member of the White Helmets filmed this footage with his mobile phone and it was leaked before being edited,” another post claims on this page.
However, if you do a reverse image search on InVid – a free plugin that you can install on Google Chrome – you can easily find the original video. This scene took play in the city of Kafar Batna in Eastern Ghouta… but in October 2013. In reality, it was a demonstration organised by a local organisation called Nesma, which was seeking to denounce "global inaction” after the chemical attacks in Syria. So, yes – these kids and doctors are just acting. But that’s because it was a performative protest, not an attempt to trick anyone.
The original video, posted on September 2013 on YouTube.
The Syrian rebels accuse the regime of using chemical weapons against a hospital in Douma, Eastern Ghouta on April 7. According to medical charity Sams, at least 49 people were killed and dozens more injured.
Numerous videos showing corpses in Douma have emerged since April 7. The independent investigative site Bellingcat has verified these videos' authenticity.
>> READ MORE ON THE OBSERVERS: Syria govt supporters use old video to back false claim that Ghouta atrocities are staged