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5 Oct, 2016 13:35

‘1st victim of war is truth’: Syrian-born journalist slams MSM for Aleppo bias

A Syrian-born journalist has slammed the New York Daily News and the Independent newspaper for not accusing Syrian rebels of shelling areas belonging to government forces, lamenting that the MSM is not covering all sides of the war.

Harout Ekmanian was speaking to RT about his disbelief at the deliberate misreporting of the death of a Syrian swimmer and her 12-year-old brother.

Mireille Hindoyan and her younger sibling were killed in the Villi district of West Aleppo on Friday.

“I think the first victim of the war is the truth, especially in the Syrian war where journalism and journalists suffered a lot. Preserving impartiality has become a very difficult task for journalists,” he said.

Ekmanian, who now lives in New York, wrote an editorial in the New York Daily News explaining what had happened, only for the publication to remove a section in which he said the rebels were responsible for the deaths of the brother and sister.

“The New York Daily News published my contribution, but a paragraph was removed. I don’t think personally that was a very serious editorial decision and I am still waiting for an explanation,” he told RT.

Ekmanian, who originally hails from the Armenian district in Aleppo, says he has spoken to eyewitnesses who “specifically confirmed” that the bombing was carried out by “rebel shelling.” His forays into writing for major US publications have also uncovered disheartening truths about how the conflict in Syria is being reported, he says.

“The issue of this media censorship or media bias about some facts about the Syrian war [shows] there is a general atmosphere of media bias or restricting the narrative to certain news trends. I think this is the general issue that I see to the experience that I went through.”

His criticism was not just reserved for the New York Daily News, as he also slammed the Independent newspaper, which he accused of “trying to shift the blame onto the other side.”

“The Independent article didn’t actually say it was a result of the rebel shelling. They tried to blame it on the government shelling or its allies,” he told RT.

“We know that the government’s allies are no angels and there are also violations committed by that side, by the Russian airstrikes also. But this particular case was rarely documented and happened in a neighborhood that I come from, and I talked with eyewitnesses and they specifically confirmed this was carried out by rebel shelling.”

While the MSM has given blanket coverage to its reporting of western Aleppo, which is largely controlled by forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ekmanian says that the same media is ignoring the plight of towns being bombarded by the rebels because it does not fit their narrative.

“You rarely see any information about Kefreya or Al-Fuah that are besieged towns in Syria and are besieged by the rebels. They [the rebels] are not shying away from using the same tactics that they are criticizing,” he said.

“When we talk about double standards, it can work both ways. I rarely see pieces in the international media and even on social media by different activists or different public figures that talk about violations or tactics that are against international humanitarian law that are being committed by the anti-government sides.”