US President Donald Trump has lambasted American broadcaster ABC News for airing a video from Knob Creek Gun Range in the town of West Point, Kentucky, claiming that the network used footage from the facility to depict a Turkish attack on Kurdish civilians in northern Syria. Trump called the mistake “a big scandal” and “a real disgrace”.
“A big scandal at @ABC News. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria. A real disgrace", the president wrote on Twitter early Tuesday morning.
“Tomorrow they will ask softball questions to Sleepy Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, like why did Ukraine & China pay you millions when you knew nothing? Payoff?”, the US president added.
A big scandal at @ABC News. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria. A real disgrace. Tomorrow they will ask softball questions to Sleepy Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, like why did Ukraine & China pay you millions when you knew nothing? Payoff?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2019
The video, which ABC foreign correspondent Ian Panell claimed to have been “obtained by ABC News”, was first aired by the channel on Sunday during the programme World News Tonight with host Tom Llamas claiming that it showed the “horrific atrocities” of “Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town”.
“One week since President Trump ordered US forces out of that region, effectively abandoning America’s allies in the fight against [ISIS*]", Llamas said during the broadcast.
“This video right here appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town", the host added. “The Kurds, who fought alongside the US against ISIS. Now, horrific reports of atrocities committed by Turkish-backed fighters on those very allies".
However, after several questions about the video's authenticity were raised by social media users, other news outlets decided to carry out a comparative analysis, eventually concluding that the video was identical to footage from a military gun demonstration that was filmed in Kentucky during a biannual event called “Military Gun Shoot & Military Gun Show” and published on YouTube in 2017, according to Gizmodo media.
ABC eventually took the video down, with network representatives saying that the channel “regrets the error”.
On 9 October, Turkey started "Operation Peace Spring" in northern Syria targeting the Daesh* terrorist group and the Kurdish militias from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which Turkey considers to be linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), designated as “terrorists” by Ankara. The international community has condemned the offensive, with Donald Trump later directly calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and urging him to implement an immediate ceasefire.
* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other states.