BBC's credibility at stake

In a report relying on statements by terrorists and smugglers, BBC cast false charges on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that eliminated Islamic State (ISIS) and eradicated it from its capital and main base of operations in Syria.

In a report relying on statements by terrorists and smugglers, BBC cast false charges on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that eliminated Islamic State (ISIS) and eradicated it from its capital and main base of operations in Syria.

BBC states the SDF - which was the most efficient force fighting terrorism in Syria and which always said they are fighting for ending terrorism in the whole world – is now exporting terrorists back to Europe and the world.

The BBC report titled “Raqqa’s Dirty Secret” handles a “secret deal” with the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces that allegedly helped hundreds of ISIS members leave Raqqa and head to villages in the desert. The article claims that hundreds of ISIS fighters, their families and tonnes of weapons and ammunition were allowed to escape from Raqqa and drive into the villages of Deir al-Zor which were under ISIS control. It also alleges that coalition aircraft monitored the convoy from the air during the three days of the trip.

However, the report contains fabricated stories, discrepancies and distorted information that put BBC’s credibility at stake.

We, ANF news agency, scrutinized the report and thus review its main contradictions for our readers.


The Syrian Democratic Forces approved the ceasefire proposal made by demand from local sources on October 14.

According to the agreement, ISIS members would be evacuated along with the civilians to avoid more massacres. This agreement was made out in the open. Many television programs and news reports covered and commented on this agreement. The news stories on the agreement have been on local and worldwide media, videos of which can be found.

The operation spokesperson hasalready announced that the agreement wasn’t made in secret. As such, the operation spokesperson had actually spoken to the BBC Radio about the agreement on October 14.

Just this information alone clearly shows that the BBC is attempting to skew the current topics on the agenda with a report based on a lie.


The journalists who prepared the report primarily share information obtained from a driver named Abu Fawzi. This man is used as the main research source in their report. Abu Fawzi is a driver with several trucks. According to this report, he provides transportation services for various forces.

According to the BBC report, the SDF asked Abu Fawzi to transport hundreds of civilians from Tabqa to a residential area. According to information Abu Fawzi provided, the SDF officials told him he would make so much money if he does this job. Abu Fawzi claimed they were tricked and when they arrived, and that most of the people to be transported were ISIS members. He claimed ISIS militants had large amounts of ammunition, weapons and explosive vests with them, their families were also accompanying them and that the transportation needed to be done in three days.

These are the discrepant claims of Abu Fawzi: Why would the SDF trick him by telling him to transport civilians? Transporting civilians is something in favour of SDF not against them. Wouldn’t that untrue piece of information hurt the SDF itself?

Moreover, such drivers are either smugglers or working with smugglers and it’s not logical that a driver or a smuggler does not know their passengers from the beginning of any trip they have. In the world of journalism, human traffickers cannot be taken as a credible source of information as they change their minds and fabricate stories just for money.


Then Abu Fawzi claimed he and his fellow drivers were afraid crossing into Raqqa. But though the SDF forces were supposed to go with them, they ended up going alone.

Here, another discrepancy emerges. They say they were to transport civilians in Tabqa, but Tabqa is 40 km from Raqqa, and they claim they crossed into Raqqa.

Also according to the BBC report, Abu Fawzi transported some 4000 people including women, children and ammunition in 50 trucks, 15 buses and 100 ISIS vehicles. He also said he thought they were transporting just 200 people.


First, did Abu Fawzi take 50 trucks and 15 buses to transport 200 people? Did he arrange to transport three people in each truck? On the one hand, he said they headed towards Tabqa, but on the other, he said they went into Raqqa.

Secondly, Abu Fawzi said transporting ISIS members from Raqqa to DeirEzZor took 3 days. Anybody in Syria knows that it takes a couple of hours from Raqqa to DeirEzZor. Is the area they passed through under SDF control? Or is it controlled by ISIS? Looking at the route of the evacuation again, there would have been no security issues.

Third point is, in the report Abu Fawzi said Coalition planes flew over the convoy and fired light bombs to provide illumination so they wouldn’t lose their way in the desert and get to their destination.


We already stated that the journey couldn’t have taken more than a few hours, and that the ISIS members, especially the locals, know the area pretty well. The area and the villages and towns there are under either SDF or ISIS control. That is why it doesn’t make much sense that illuminating bombs were used. All the incidents in the report have been exaggerated like this, which casts a shadow on the truthfulness of the report. Many questions emerge along with this. How is it possible that there was an agreement with the Coalition and the parties to the agreement couldn’t find a way to carry out the transportation in a short time? On the other hand, if this agreement is so secret and “dirty”, why did the Coalition and the SDF provide a bunch of drivers with these secrets and mysteries?

Let’s move on to another aspect of the BBC report. Abu Musab Huthaifa is one of the intelligence officials of ISIS. According to the report, he was among the people transported in that convoy.

When Abu Musab Huthaifa reached Deir EzZor, he attempted to flee from the area under the “Euphrates Shield” control (areas controlled by Turkey-backed militants) to Idlib, but that was exposed and Euphrates Shield forces detained and arrested him.

Abu Musab spoke about the final days of the ISIS caliphate in Raqqa, especially on the days of “the agreement”: He said the dialogue started on October 10 and some prominent members of ISIS weren’t in favour of an agreement but they ended up having to approve it, especially after the Coalition forces exerted pressure. At the same time, he claimed the Coalition planes bombed an area under their control for 10 hours and killed some 500 to 600 people.

A good look at this point and focusing on details is necessary. First of all, basing the “truth” on an ISIS official’s comments and the previous discrepancies in Abu Fawzi's account the credibility of the report and the BBC at stake, simply because Abu Musab Huthaifa is a party in this war.


And the two journalists who prepared the report (Riam and Quentin) published a video to confirm Abu Musab's account of the bombing, and claimed that the video was taken on the 11th of October, i.e. one day after the bombing. The two journalists in question claimed that the bombing targeted a building that had 35 women and children inside. According to the journalists, this was enough to break the faith of ISIS members.

Watching the video, however, there is very little to see clearly. There is an unclear aircraft in the video, and it’s unknown where it is. It’s also unknown who the aircraft belonged to. It could be Russian, Syrian or it could belong to a number of other forces. Or it could be a Coalition aircraft carrying out an attack on an ISIS group.

The two journalists presented ISIS official Abu Musab's claims as truth, without a doubt.


Abu Musab, who was able to give an interview despite having been arrested by Euphrates Shield forces, told the journalist next: “After the bombing and the military raid, ISIS officials approved the agreement, including those who were against it. According to the agreement, we were not to transport heavy weapons with us, but we didn’t have them anyways, we only had light weapons.”

Abu Musab's comment exposes a fake story in the report - because, according to the beginning of the report, the armed men took tons of heavy weapons and ammunition with them - at one point in the report, the “[truck’s] axle was broken because of the weight of the ammo”. But one ISIS officials said no such thing happened, which exposes clearly the lies of driver Abu Fawzi.


The report includes Abu Fawzi and others’ accounts that the agreement allowed many foreign ISIS members to get out, go into Turkey and then cross into Europe from there.

Private sources spoke to our agency and said foreign ISIS members were excluded from the agreement and those who surrendered to the SDF were handed over to the governments of their origin countries.

The same source said only the local armed men were allowed out along with their families, and went to the rural areas of DeirAl-Zor and there are not so many of them.


The BBC report includes a video that they claim includes details of the SDF, the Coalition and ISIS. The video in question shows an ISIS family preparing to get out, and it is published as a special video. But the same video had been shared by a Twitter user on October 17, weeks ago.


Co-author of the report journalist Riam Dalati shared the audio recording on his twitter account and claimed the voice belonged to a SDF official named Kahraman. Dalati claims the audio recording supports the authenticity of the report, and that Kahraman talks about the details of the agreement.

But the SDF Command spoke to the ANF and declared that the voice does not belong to the claimed official. That brought the suspicion that the audio recording could be a fake. In addition, all who commented on Dalati’s tweet said they were sure the voice was not Kahraman’s.


Considering that the SDF had banned journalists from entering Raqqa between October 10 and 20, the question is: How did the journalists working for the BBC obtain the video of ISIS members and their families being transported in buses and trucks from Raqqa to DeirEzZor?

The website Xeber24 had accused some local journalists of selling videos for large sums of money.

The website mentions the journalists with their initials, as N.S and B.T.

On the other hand, Xeber 24 administrator Zinar Ali said some journalists who work for the BBC and people close to the journalists who published the story contacted them and demanded they remove the incriminating article from the website. Ali said they were also threatened with legal action.


The BBC report claims the driver Abu Fawzi said ISIS took tonnes of weapons and ammunition with them. But at the same time, the authors of the report claim ISIS had been hit with heavy bombardment that led it to surrender and accept the agreement, according to Abu Musab Huthaifa.

The question is: How could ISIS impose conditions and take heavy weapons (heavy enough to break axels) with them while they are collapsing and were forced to surrender?

Or do the authors of the report aim to blame the Coalition forces of protecting ISIS? The same Coalition forces that threatened to kill the very same ISIS members in Raqqa?


In a report published on BBC Arabic On October 17, the correspondent says from Naeem Square in Raqqa that it was a great achievement by the SDF to end the battle this way and make the ISIS militants withdraw from the city.

To watch and read the report, click on the following link:

ANF had published an article on 275 gang members surrendering in Raqqa on October 15.