Iranian news agency publishes fake photos of attack on US base
Iran’s Fars News Agency has published images it claims show the Iranian missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US troops.
The picture shown by the semi-official news agency was in fact an image of a 2017 rocket attack by Iran against an Islamic State (IS) position in eastern Syria, along with another image from a 2018 missile attack targeting Syrian regime troops in Latakia province in northwestern Syria.
Fars itself had previously published the 2017 image it tried to pass off as being from Wednesday’s attack, while the 2018 image was a screen-grab from a video published by the Syrian Step News Agency.
Arab social media users pointed out the forgery on Twitter. Jamal Ben Attaf, a Yemeni tribal sheikh, said on Twitter “The picture published by the Fars Agency is old, from 2017, and it claimed that it is live from the bombing of the Ain Asad air base.” His tweet was accompanied by a retweet of Fars’ 2020 Twitter post and a screenshot featuring the 2017 image.
Iran bombed the Ain Asad air base in western Iraq and another base housing US troops in Erbil in northern Iraq with 22 missiles shortly after midnight local time on Wednesday, in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. No casualties were reported.
In a Facebook post, Lebanese journalist Mahmoud Ghazayel posted the image published by Fars which was taken from the 2018 Step News Agency video, pointing out the forgery and saying that this bombing had targeted Syria’s Assad regime and allied militias. Step said in 2018 that the perpetrators of the bombing were unknown.
Iranian state TV also claimed on Wednesday that 80 “American terrorists” had been killed in the attack, when the vast majority of news sources around the world reported that there were no casualties.
The Fars News Agency, which describes itself as “Iran’s leading independent news agency” has published questionable material before.
In 2012 it re-published a satirical story from The Onion which said that “an overwhelming majority of rural white Americans” would rather vote for former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than then-US President Barack Obama, as serious news.
It also published a story claiming that an Iranian scientist had invented a time machine in 2013, before taking it down and publishing a denial a few days later.