White Helmets' footage, released in August, showed the boy injured and covered in ashes after being rescued from an attack in the militant-controlled Karm al-Qaterji neighborhood. Syrian anti-government forces accused Russia of conducting an airstrike on the neighborhood, while Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov denied mainstream media reports of Russia’s alleged role in the strike as the residential neighborhood is directly adjacent to the Russian humanitarian operation corridors for the safe exit of local residents.
RT TV channel released a two-part interview with Omran Daqneesh's father Mohammad Kheir Daqneesh on Tuesday and Wednesday. The interview revealed that the White Helmets volunteers had manipulated injured Omran into being photographed instead of offering immediate help and later threatened his father after he went into hiding to prevent any more unwanted media exposure.
RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said the broadcaster could take CNN correspondent and host Christiane Amanpour to Syria to meet Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian boy who was considered by mainstream media to be a symbol of children suffering in Aleppo but was later revealed to have been manipulated by the White Helmets volunteers while his family was threatened.
"Our reporters have debunked one of the worst fakes about Syria. Next time we will bring Christiane Amanpour [to Syria] and everyone else along. But only if they have the heart to talk to Omran and his family," Simonyan said in a statement released by RT.Zakharova also invited Amanpour to visit Syria's Aleppo to take an interview with the child. The invitation came in response to Amanpour showing the photograph of Daqneesh shot in August in her October interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying that it illustrated "a crime against humanity."
A political scientist, candidate of political sciences Sergey Zhuravsky told Radio Sputnik expressed the opinion that such "fakes" can only be countered with the truth.
"This is a well-known practice of White Helmets and that and similar organizations that constantly use fakes to boost its reputation. Many people understand that this is an organization that works for certain media outlets. Some [media outlets] speak of the 'bloody victims of the Syrian troops,' others provide such "confirmations." So the White Helmets do what they're paid for, and CNN gets ratings and a grateful audience, which is horrified by the victims of war in Syria. Such fakes can only be countered by truth delivered impartially. And the consumer of this information will decide what is good and what is bad," Zhuravsky noted.
This was not the first fake footage provided by the While Helmets. The Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) has accused the White Helmets of falsifying information about their work in Syria, including on the situation in Idlib. According to the activists, the White Helmets staged their so-called "rescue" attempts shown in their videos for purposes of propaganda.
Since then, the organization has enjoyed increased media attention. In February 2017, an eponymous 40-minute documentary about the White Helmets won an Oscar for best documentary short feature.