The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Slaying the First Casualty in War?

News Commentary — Oct 21, 2015

The Director and sole employee of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, reports on the situation in Syria from his house in Coventry, England.

The Director and sole employee of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, reports on the situation in Syria from his house in Coventry, England.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is quoted extensively by the media for eye-witness accounts of the conflict in Syria, yet it is far from the front line. Very far. In fact it’s based thousands of miles away in a quiet suburban street in Coventry, England.
Nonetheless it has become the mainstay for information on events in Syria for much of the corporate media. Reports from Reuters, AFP and Associated Press regularly cite quotes from the head of SOHR, Rami Abdulrahman.
Yet the Syrian born Rami Abdulrahman admits that he has not set foot in his native land in nearly 20 years. Instead, he resides in his two-bedroom house in Coventry from where he complies and distributes reports.
Far removed from the strife in his homeland, Abdulrahman single handedly puts together his reports, which are then circulated world-wide through the corporate media.
In a recent Reuters article the Times of India reported that “three Russians had been killed fighting alongside Syrian forces”.
The Times claims the information came from an unnamed “senior pro-government military source.” However, closer examination reveals that the information and the quotes actually came from Rami Abdulrahman.
According to Abdulrahman a ‘pro-government source’ told him the Russians “were killed and several more wounded when a shell hit their position in the coastal province of Latakia.”
“It’s a 90 per cent probability that the shell was fired by the militants,” Abdulrahman told Reuters. Although pointedly, he doesn’t name his source or cite their whereabouts or position.
The Russian Embassy in Damascus has emphatically denied the report. With embassy spokesperson Asiyat Turuchneva saying that it looked like another false report: “especially considering that the source of this information is the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which, in turn, refers to some ‘own sources’.”
We’ll reserve judgement for now on whether three Russians have actually been killed. However, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a disinformation outlet that is being used to feed distorted reports about events in Syria to the global media.
This linked Reuters report  for example claims that 80% of Russian air strikes are not targeting Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS or ISIL) but opponents of President Assad. It sounds authoritative enough making its case with quotes from Alexander Golts, a Moscow-based defence columnist and yes, you guessed it, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In fact Rami Abdulrahman has been quoted extensively throughout the corporate media in the past few days. The following are a few other recent examples from prominent publications, which all cite quotes and information from him:
“Russian airstrikes were reported to have so far killed 370 people, including more than 120 civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.” quote from Tens of thousands flee Aleppo following latest wave of airstrikes in Syria
‘First Russia casualties’ killed fighting alongside government forces in Syria
Syria conflict: Russian air strikes ‘kill 45 in Latakia’
“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier put the death toll at 45 rebels and civilians” quote from Third Russian air strike on Syrian rebel group kills leader
The Telegraph, the BBC and the Guardian make for an impressive media line-up and they all report the same thing: Russians fighting alongside Syrian government forces and Russian air strikes killing Syrian civilians. Significantly these reports portray Russia and its Syrian ally in a rather dismal light; not stubbornly fighting terrorists but as little better than terrorists themselves.
Thing is none of these reports are corroborated. The media outlets mentioned all quote Rami Abdulrahman without question and make no attempt to verify what he says as fact. Just remember that next time you see a news report that cites Rami Abdulrahman and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Someone may be trying to feed you disinformation in the guise of ‘news’ from Syria.

4 responses to “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Slaying the First Casualty in War?”

  1. […] authentic or not. For the simple reason that the following Reuters report uses information from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a suspected disinformation outlet run by a lone Syrian expatriate based in Coventry, […]

  2. […] We should not be surprised though. After all the above is based on information from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Coventry based media outlet run by one man, Rami Abdulrahman. […]

  3. […] Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a media outlet run by a single-Syrian expatriate in Coventry, England, has frequently been quoted […]

  4. […] critical factors emerge here: first these claims are being relayed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one man operation run from Coventry England, which has suspected links with Western […]