Horror movie image used in Syria’s Kessab war ‘hoax’

Pictures circulating on social media purportedly show violence in Kessab – but several have been exposed as fake

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An image of a slain woman with a cross in her mouth purportedly taken in Syria has been exposed as a hoax, with commentators pointing out the picture was taken from a Canadian horror film.

The image, which has been circulating widely on social media, was been linked to alleged violence in the predominantly Christian Armenian town of Kessab.

Yet media observers have exposed the picture as a fake, with the still apparently taken from the 2005 horror movie “Inner Depravity.”

While the picture was circulated on sites such as Twitter, MTV Lebanon reported that it was used and disseminated by the Syrian regime.

Another picture of a decapitated child started trending with the hashtag #SaveKessab. The picture was proved to be misleading, however, as it depicted Fatima Meghlaj, a young Muslim girl beheaded by Syrian regime shelling in Idlib, 2012.

Other less gruesome pictures purportedly coming from Kessab were also discredited.

The ‘Save Kessab’ Facebook page circulated pictures of a Christian church in ruins, saying: “Hate Crimes, and the world is silent.”

The photos were discovered to be from a different province in Syria, St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church in Yabrud.

On Friday, the Lebanon-based Daily Star newspaper published an article titled “Kasab vs. #Kessab, and propaganda on Syria’s coast,” saying: “Much of the wider social media campaign’s visual content [on Kessab] and particularly a selection of still photographs – highlight how tenuous Internet-driven claims can be.”

It added: “Horrific to look at, the photos suffer from the fact that not a single one is connected to events in Kasab in late March 2014.”

The anti-Syrian regime ‘Denbunkation of Assadist Media’ [sic] website wrote: “Hoax images are mostly being posted first to Instagram with the ArmenianUnity and SaveKessab instagram pages being so far the most notorious for posting misused and hoax images.”

In late March, the mayor of Kessab, Vazgen Chaparyan, refuted claims that Armenians were being targeted in an interview with Armenian TV station GALA-TV.

“Armenians [have not been] killed, I do not know from where these rumors are being created,” he said.

“Armenians are still coming down safe into Latakia to secure themselves from [the] war zone, and we are already accommodating them in Latakia, in community premises and schools. They are all provided with food and other essential supplies.”

The Kessab issue has also stirred a reaction from U.S. reality TV star Kim Kardashian, as Al Arabiya News reported last week.

Kardashian, whose father was Armenian, tweeted in late in March: “Please let’s not let history repeat itself, let’s get this trending. #SaveKessab #ArmenianGenocide,” referring to the 1915 massacre of Kessab’s Armenians by Ottoman forces.

Ghassan Ibrahim, the Editor in Chief of Global Arab Network, told Al Arabiya News that Assad’s regime sought to exploit the case of the Armenian minority in Kessab to support his “illegitimate case.”

“Obviously Kessab is a hot topic for Assad to use because there is the Armenian minority there,” Ibrahim said. “We have seen a lot of fabricated material on social media to support his case.”

Ibrahim said the Assad’s regime “relied on propaganda machine and some professional and nonprofessional PR companies because it doesn’t have any credible issue to talk about.”

“They had to fabricate many photos and rely on some celebrities to spread this,” he said.

“The celebrities who live abroad do not know the reality and they are just send some fake photos on social media and try to convince them that that’s what’s happening.”