Thursday, August 16

Iran's reporting on the Syrian War for English-speakers

Recently I've been posting a considerable number of war reports from FARS, first because it's the only English-language website to closely track the escalating violence in conflicts between Turkish and U.S.-backed militias and local Syrian populations. 

Secondly, in recent weeks Iran's state news agency has been increasingly translating reports about the Syrian War that are published at Sputnik's Arabic-language website -- reports unavailable at Sputnik's English language site -- then publishing English-language summaries of the translations at their FARS English-language website. 

Given that Sputnik is as much a Russian state news agency, the Iranian government has been performing an important  public service for English-speakers who're trying to keep abreast of war news from Syria -- and the Russian military's view of the war -- but can't read Arabic. 

They're also translating into English reports on the Syrian War from well-known Arabic-language news sources in Lebanon and Syria. 

As to how much propaganda these war reports represent, from what I've read since I started following FARS on a daily basis -- not long after the Russians entered the war -- I think they're careful to publish reports that Iranian field sources in Syria can verify as being it least 'in the ballpark.' The wording of the headlines can be misleading and smack of propaganda, which is why I'll often paraphrase a headline rather than post it verbatim.  And of course war reporting in general can contain inaccuracies. But when it comes to the 'trend' of reports on war situations in Syria, I've not known FARS to be wrong.

FARS can sometimes jump the gun, as I've mentioned before. There was the time they reported that the SAA had retaken East Aleppo. After I joyously posted the report, I became suspicious when no other Syrian War site was reporting this great victory. It turned out the SAA had retaken the 'Old City' in E. Aleppo. But a few days later the army did accomplish what by then was clearly inevitable.   

FARS' only real failing, if it can be called that, is that they don't like acknowledging that the enemy can on occasion win a battle. If the Syrian military or SAA-allied militia get pounded, FARS tends to grandly ignore the rout, which Al Masdar News, a pro-SAA war news site that is also an invaluable source on the war, will dutifully report. However, unfolding events showed that the trajectory of the war has been on the side of the SAA since the Russian intervention. So those who used FARS as a source on the war came out ahead of all the naysayers.  One can't ask for more from a war news site.   

In short, if I thought FARS was leading its readers down the garden path I wouldn't be featuring their reports at this blog -- and since they've taken to translating Sputnik's Arabic-language reports, I've been featuring them a great deal. 

As to why Sputnik isn't publishing the same reports on their English-language website, I don't know. I just know that in recent months the English-language Sputnik has gone increasingly 'dark' about the kinetic aspects of the Syrian War. The Idlib Offensive, whenever it gets fully underway, could reverse the trend.


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