See also BBC Panorama; on location with ISIS
Scenes in the 2013 BBC Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children reveal that the award-winning team of reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway OBE were embedded with jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham which, according to Human Rights Watch, had three weeks earlier worked alongside Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra as one of “the key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of an attack in which at least 190 civilians were killed and over 200 – “the vast majority women and children” – were kidnapped. 
In its October 2013 report “You Can Still See Their Blood” – Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside Human Rights Watch identifies 190 civilian fatalities “including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men” killed by opposition forces including Ahrar al-Sham on August 4, the first day of the 2013 Latakia Offensive. 
Pannell and Conway began filming for Saving Syria’s Children on 23 August 2013 . The programme professed to show Syria’s humanitarian crisis through the eyes of two British doctors, Rola Hallam and Saleyha Ahsan.
On the morning of 26 August, in order “to see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is”, Hallam and Ahsan travel to a frontline clinic. Pannell states (10:18):
“Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles.” 
A number of vehicles are shown setting off in convoy, including a white pickup truck with a distinctive ornament and the Ahrar al Sham emblem on its bonnet:
Stanford University’s Mapping Militants Project states that “Ahrar al-Sham worked with the Islamic State (IS) until January 2014″. The partnership would seem to be amply borne out by the scenes of Pannell and Conway’s entourage passing unmolested through an ISIS checkpoint at 11:00 in the programme. 
As the convoy passes through the checkpoint Pannell narrates:
“This is an ISIS group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is a group that’s affiliated with Al Qaeda.”
Pannell’s words belie the links between Al Qaeda and the very group within which he and his cameraman are themselves embedded. Wikipedia notes:
[Ahrar al-Sham] aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, and in the past has cooperated with the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
Stanford University fleshes out the picture:
Ahrar al-Sham has been coordinating operations with its closest ally, former Al Qaeda (AQ) affiliate Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (Tahrir al-Sham), formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra), since late 2012, and both groups are part of the Jaysh al-Fatah umbrella organization.
Prior to his death in 2014, a “leading figure” in Ahrar al-Sham – its co-founder, according to Stanford – was Abu Khalid al-Suri, real name Mohamed Bahaiah.
In 2013 the Foundation for Defense of Democracies reported that Spanish investigators had identified Bahaiah as “one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted couriers”:
Bahaiah is a longtime al Qaeda operative who worked as a courier for the terror network. Spanish authorities think he may have delivered surveillance tapes of the World Trade Center and other American landmarks to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Afghanistan in early 1998.
In addition to being a senior member of Ahrar al Sham, Bahaiah today serves as [current al-Qaeda leader] Ayman al Zawahiri’s representative in the Levant.
At the wheel of Pannell’s convoy car in Saving Syria’s Children is the programme’s credited Fixer/Translator Mughira Al Sharif. On the same day Al Sharif posted an image to Instagram expressive of the camaraderie between the Panorama team and the Ahrar al-Sham “security” men who accompanied them. It is possible that these men were among those who had participated in the mass slaughter and kidnap of civilians in Latakia twenty-two days earlier.  
Later the same day Pannell and Conway travelled with Hallam, Ahsan and Al Sharif to Atareb Hospital, Aleppo where they were on hand to record harrowing scenes of the alleged victims of an alleged incendiary attack in footage which formed the dramatic climax of Saving Syria’s Children. (See links below for discussion of these sequences).
In May 2017 it was announced that Ian Pannell was leaving the BBC to join ABC News  as a senior foreign correspondent, stationed in London. In a note to staff ABC News President James Goldston paid this tribute:
He has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time…
Recent videos and articles on Saving Syria’s Children
- Insight: Saving Syria’s Children – The Worst Case Of Fake News? – UK Column, 15 February 2017
- Is the BBC still lying over Syria footage? – Jonathan Cook, 8 March 2017
- BBC Panorama As Propaganda? Controversy over Saving Syria’s Children – Tim Hayward, 9 March 2017
- Let’s Call Western Media Coverage of Syria By Its Real Name: Propaganda – Michael Howard, Paste, 26 April 2017 (paragraph 10)
- Evidence of fakery in BBC “Saving Syria’s Children” is now undeniable– OffGuardian, 14 June 2017
 The five groups which Human Rights Watch identifies as primarily responsible for the August 4 attack are:
– Ahrar al-Sham
– Islamic State of Iraq and Sham
– Jabhat al-Nusra
– Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar
– Suquor al-Izz
Eight survivors and witnesses described how opposition forces executed residents and opened fire on civilians, sometimes killing or attempting to kill entire families who were either in their homes unarmed or fleeing from the attack, and at other times killing adult male family members, and holding the female relatives and children hostage.
 “Mr Pannell has confirmed that his “journey” began on 23 August 2103 [sic]. The visit to the frontline clinic occurred on the morning of 26 August”, BBC Editorial Complaints Unit Final Report, 19 May 2014 (p2 of PDF download). Full complaints correspondence with the BBC re: Saving Syria’s Children is logged here.
Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles.
The war in Syria is now in its third year. Sectarian differences and extremism have taken hold on both sides and the conflict threatens the stability of the region.
Travelling around Syria has never really been more dangerous, both foreign journalists and foreign aid workers have been targeted, some have been killed. We’re just going through a checkpoint now, put the camera down a bit.
Rival rebel factions now fight each other as well as the government. Lawlessness prevails and areas that were once safe can become dangerous almost overnight.
This is an ISIS group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is a group that’s affiliated with Al Qaeda. Increasing numbers of Jihadis have come into Syria, they’re setting up checkpoints so it means that any foreigners in particular travelling around the country, run the gauntlet of these checkpoints every few miles or so.
And the worst thing about driving around is that you’re never sure what lies behind the next corner.
 Despite Pannell’s assessment (10:47) that “travelling around Syria has never really been more dangerous” it would appear that Conway is able to hop between vehicles with impunity in the immediate vicinity of an ISIS checkpoint. At 10:55, seated in the rear of his saloon car, Pannell states “we’re just going through a checkpoint now” and instructs the cameraman – presumably Conway – to “put the camera down a bit”. Seconds later, in footage presumably also shot by Conway but filmed from the rear of another vehicle (the white pickup truck), we see an ISIS guard inspecting vehicles at a checkpoint.
Another of Al Sharif’s Instagram photos is jarring when one considers that it was uploaded on 27 August 2013, the day after he had driven Pannell’s car through the ISIS checkpoint and, later, supposedly witnessed appalling carnage as dozens of child victims of an incendiary attack were rushed into Atareb Hospital:
These images and other material were submitted in a 2014 appeal to the BBC Trust which argued that Al Sharif’s involvement in Saving Syria’s Children breached BBC Editorial Guidelines. In rejecting the appeal the Trust’s Editorial Standards committee did not deign to address the point.
Some of Al Sharif’s more recent Instagram images demonstrate the prestigious connections he currently enjoys:
 The identity and/or role of other uniformed and/or armed or professionally equipped individuals filmed by Darren Conway and others at Atareb Hospital on 26 August 2013 remains unclear: