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Syrian UN ambassador promotes Iraq photo as Syrian army in Aleppo

Bashar Jaafari claims picture taken in Iraq was of Syrian soldiers helping civilians in besieged Aleppo
Bashar Jaafari, Syrian representative to the UN (AFP)

Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, promoted a misleading photograph at a Security Council emergency meeting on Tuesday to back his claim that Syrian soldiers are helping people in the besieged parts of east Aleppo.

The photo shows a man in military fatigues assisting civilians. However, the image first showed up six months ago on an Iranian website about militias helping people in the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

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The Iranian outlet Oweis first published the image in June. It shows a member of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Force in a crawling position to help a civilian in Fallujah step out of a pickup truck after the city was captured from the Islamic State group.

While Jaafari condemned “fake news” on the battle of Aleppo, the Syrian diplomat held the picture and said, “The actions we’ve taken in Aleppo have had the overarching goal of protecting civilians. Allow me at this stage to show you some photos that I have. This is what the Syrian army is doing in Aleppo.”

Jafaari’s comments came after the UN said on Tuesday that it had reports of Syrian government troops and allied militia fighters killing civilians in eastern Aleppo, including 82 people in four different neighbourhoods in the past few days.

Russia's defence ministry was cited on Wednesday by the Interfax news agency as saying that almost 6,000 civilians, among them 2,000 children, have left rebel-held districts of Aleppo over the past 24 hours.

The defence ministry also said that over the same period 366 rebels had laid down their arms and moved out of rebel-controlled parts of the city, Interfax reported.

Nevertheless, tens of thousands of civilians have chosen to stay on in the ever-shrinking rebel enclave for fear of arrest or torture by government forces.

Middle East Eye correspondent Zouhir al-Shimale, who is in the besieged part of Aleppo, estimated the number of people left in rebel-controlled areas hover between 40,000 and 70,000.