Syrian activists have ridiculed the Russian embassy in Syria after it was exposed for using a fake photo of a ‘humanitarian crossing’ in which it claimed Syrians from Idlib were queuing up to move to areas held by the Syrian regime.
In the Tweet published by the embassy on its Twitter page on Sunday, it claimed that a reconciliation centre set up by Russia and the Syrian regime helped Syrians return to regime-held areas:
🇷🇺RUS Reconcilliation Center gets appeals from Syrians under illegal armed formations in #Idlib to help them return home in Gov't controlled areas. To arrange it crossing points to open JAN13 in Habit, Abu Duhur, alHadir. Information is being distributed ➡️https://t.co/6wLfp18JS6 pic.twitter.com/CAZRl4B1PB
— Russian Embassy, Syria (@RusEmbSyria) January 12, 2020
Beneath the caption was a photo posted showing a long queue of Syrians with their luggage, waiting in a shelter-like structure.
Syrians and others who commented under the tweet exposed it as a picture that was used in 2018, however, when Syrians living in Turkey were given access to spend the month of Ramadan in Syrian areas liberated by the Turkish military in the north of the country.
— Mosab (@MosabAga) January 13, 2020
— سوري حر (@homsattak) January 12, 2020
Other users noticed Turkish border police in the background of the photo, which the Russian embassy seemingly did not even think to airbrush out or edit in order to lie successfully.
The embassy also did not take into consideration the fact that it is winter and, according to one user, “1°C in there [Idlib] and people are hanging out in T-Shirts…At least you could do better faking this by using a photo in Winter.”
The same day the photo was posted by the embassy, a ceasefire was struck between Turkey and Russia regarding the province of Idlib in the north-west of Syria, obligating both the Syrian regime and the Syrian opposition groups to hold the peace and refrain from attacking on another.
It was the latest in many ceasefires declared in the province, all of them having been broken mainly by the regime and its ally Russia.
On Wednesday at least 21 people were killed in Idlib as Syria and Russia intensified air strikes on the city.
Since April last year, the regime has led a campaign of constant aerial bombardment of the province with Russian support, aiming to recapture the last major opposition stronghold in the country in its nine-year-long civil war.
This campaign was launched despite the deal between Turkey and Russia in September 2018 to make Idlib a de-escalation zone in which civilians could live safely from the conflict.
With much of the country having been taken over by the regime, and consequently many of the citizens again being subject to its suppression and torture, Idlib has long been in Assad’s sights.
Throughout much of last year, however, the regime made little progress in retaking it from the opposition until Russian ground troops and Iranian forces became involved, helping Assad to advance into much of the province and capture many cities and areas.
On Monday, regime helicopters dropped leaflets over the province telling civilians to leave the opposition-held areas and return to the regime-held areas through certain “humanitarian corridors” and crossing points.
There was reportedly no civilian movement, which is as expected due to the fact that civilians who have returned and accepted the regime’s guarantee of “reconciliation agreements” previously have been again arrested, tortured, or executed by the regime.