ABC News Airs Phony Syria Footage

Network removes segment⁠—including footage from American gun range⁠—after request for comment

• October 14, 2019 12:35 pm


ABC News aired footage claiming to show a Turkish attack on a Syrian border town that was actually from a 2017 video of an American shooting range.

During Sunday's ABC World News Tonight, host Tom Llamas showed footage of several large explosions and machine gun fire over a night sky that he described as "appearing to show Turkey's military bombing Kurdish civilians in a Syrian border town." The same footage aired Monday in an early morning World News Now segment, where it was dated to October 11 and described as "video obtained by ABC News" that "appears to show the fury of the Turkish attack on the border town of Tel Abyed." Good Morning America aired a brief snippet of the footage hours later while introducing a segment on Syria.

But the footage appears to be taken from a YouTube video uploaded by user derekknoll titled "Knob Creek night shoot 2017," showing a controlled machine gun fire at a gun range. The caption reads "2017, Merica."

President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing troops from Northern Syria ahead of a planned Turkish offensive against Kurdish militias allied with the United States. Republican and Democratic critics alike blasted the move, calling it a betrayal of the forces that played a key role in the fight against ISIS.

ABC News's mistake went viral after it was noted on Twitter by Wojciech Pawelczyk, an employee of One America News Network host Jack Posobiec. Posobiec has a history of pushing conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate and has previously been accused of staging viral hoaxes.

"We've taken down video that aired on World News Tonight Sunday and Good Morning America this morning that appeared to be from the Syrian border immediately after questions were raised about its accuracy," a spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. "ABC News regrets the error."

A source familiar with the matter told the Free Beacon that ABC News had obtained the footage from a third party — who cited the dangerous situation on the border to avoid giving fuller details — and that there would be an investigation into how the footage made it on to air.