Former BBC employee: Saving Syria’s Children was “stage managed”


A scene from Saving Syria’s Children

A former BBC employee has provided the following statement regarding the 2013 Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children:

As soon as I saw Saving Syria’s Children I knew it was stage managed, far too many red flags shown in the piece throughout.

It was obvious to me that the casualties had been dressed up using CASSIM [Casualty Simulation] [1].

CASSIM is used to simulate visible injuries used for moulage training. It wasn’t even well done and very amateurish, it was over dramatised [2], the alleged casualties did not show the correct signs/symptoms of individuals who had been caught up in a chemical attack nor that of individuals suffering from the effects of chemical burns or that of those subjected to the blast/detonation/spread of the alleged detonation of a large munition [3].

It also struck me that none of the doctors/medical staff in the report were wearing PPE, which would be standard if there really was a suspected chemical attack.

Although I’d left the BBC by then I spoke with various contacts I had and told them I was appalled at what I’d just seen. I got generic responses, ums and ahs mostly. I was shocked by the lack of accountability and integrity shown by a main stream media organisation.

I also showed the report to medical professionals including a dermatologist. They all responded similarly that it was ludicrous, burns victims would not behave in the way that was shown, plus the treatment being shown for the management of burns was incorrect, and the doctor shown in the interview would have known this, yet at no time was she directing/advising anyone in the correct procedures. Even within a conflict zone the basics would have been available.

I knew Ian Pannell some years prior. He was an exceptional journalist, a good guy who stated the facts. But the agenda is driven by producers and editors, especially foreign desk editors and department heads. In my experience there is also influence from outside from the civil service.

However it came about, I found it pretty disgraceful. It was evident there was an agenda. Tugging at the heartstrings is one thing, but news gathering should not be stage managed. It’s known that Ian Pannell left the BBC some time afterwards, which is sometimes what happens after a bad story, however it’s unknown as to whether this was the case and may have been a longer term career move.

Another red flag was the emblems for designated terrorist organisations on the vehicles [4]. I [was] observing ISIS and other group elements in Syria during that time and they were prevalent in that area. So why was it possible for the BBC team to be filming in that location at that exact time, it wasn’t coincidental.

A lot of things do not ring true about that report and there are a lot of questions to be asked of the BBC. But as ever to save face amongst those that digest the news from the media, I’d say they will never raise their hands and admit or acknowledge that the event was stage managed.

This testimony is discussed in this April 2020 interview with the author of this blog, Robert Stuart, conducted by former BBC and ITV journalist Anna Brees:

The former BBC employee’s statement is consistent with observations made by author and human rights activist Craig Murray:

Finally, it is worth noting that this Gdansk experience was one of a number which led me immediately to understand that the famous BBC report on “Saving Syria’s Children” was faked. The alleged footage of burns victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.

In 2019 actor Keith Allen fronted a crowdfunding campaign to produce a documentary investigating Saving Syria’s Children. The campaign was featured on Talk Radio’s Matthew Wright Show.

A copy of Saving Syria’s Children is available on Vimeo. [5] The most contentious sequence commences at 30:38.

For more analysis of Saving Syria’s Children see the home page of this blog.


[1] See HOSPEX injury simulation techniques.

[2] See Tableau of alleged male casualties.

[3] See Plausibility of injuries and demeanour of alleged victims.

[4] A vehicle in Ian Pannell’s convoy in the programme bore the logo of ISIS-linked jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham. An ambulance filmed at close quarters by the BBC bringing alleged casualties to Atareb Hospital displayed the ISIS emblem in its rear window.

[5] While countless other editions of Panorama remain available to view in their entirety on YouTube, all copies and clips of Saving Syria’s Children are instantly removed from the platform.

Saving Syria’s Children – more footage

The first two videos below show victims of the alleged incendiary attack depicted in BBC Panorama Saving Syria’s Children arriving at Reyhanli State Hospital, Turkey on either the evening of 26 August or early morning of 27 August 2013.

A conflict between still images of these events and the BBC’s narrative was discussed in this previous post

Readers of this blog will be aware of my contention that scenes featuring the same alleged victims filmed by BBC Panorama at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 were staged. If this is correct then the shots from 30 seconds in the second video of the young girl apparently under sedation would add child abuse to the list of the crimes of those responsible for the fabrication. 

A rough transcript [1] of the first video indicates that the man interviewed from 49 seconds onwards (and who also features in the second video from 1:12) is the father of one of the alleged victims and had attended the scene of the alleged strike scant hours earlier. His calm and collected manner might appear to belie both of these claims.

The man also refers to a phosphorous bomb. The original BBC news report of the incident claimed “the injuries and debris suggests something like napalm or thermite” and Human Rights Watch also referred to “a fuel similar to napalm“. There have been several contradictory claims about the munitions allegedly used in the attack, some of which are collated here.

His reference to “around 60 injured people” at the scene does not necessarily contradict the varying accounts of numbers subsequently treated at Atareb Hospital, which range from 25 to 50

Now that the location of the alleged attack, Urm al-Kubra, Aleppo, is under Syrian government control it is no longer out of the question for journalists to visit. Local residents could elucidate what occurred at the scene and also confirm if the alleged victims filmed by the BBC were indeed inhabitants of the town – as would appear in at least one instance not to be the case.

The third video, below, is a trailer for Saving Syria’s Children which was included in the end credits of another edition of Panorama, Terror in Nairobi, broadcast earlier the same evening, 30 September 2013. It contains two brief clips, not seen in the full Saving Syria’s Children programme: firstly Dr Rola Hallam, in an echo of her famous “chaos and carnage” speech, once more referring to “absolute chaos”; followed by Dr Saleyha Ahsan exclaiming that she’s “never seen anything like it, ever!” 

In both instances the doctors are speaking directly to the camera during a crisis when one would assume the sole focus of their attention would be the patients in their care. The sense of soundbites crafted for dramatic effect is hard to avoid.

The trailer as originally broadcast by the BBC can be viewed in the tweet below.


Copies of all three videos are also saved here:

[1] Arrived at via YouTube’s Turkish transcript of the video followed by Google translation. I would be very grateful if someone could provide a more accurate translation.

and ambulances are again hospitals across the border
E wounded, this time I carried the numbers
and his wounds were higher than ever.
injured were different Syria’s Aleppo
from the town of Kübra, the forest of the city
was allegedly brought to Assad forces
bomb dropped from connected aircraft
The explosion that hit the town together
about 60 people injured with
with the efforts of relatives in Reyhanlı
Cilvegözü was brought to the border gate and
chemical biological radiation and nuclear
after checks in the scout
Shipped to hospitals in Hatay
over all of the injured and
a burns on their bodies
votes in claims about votes burns
according to the witnesses of the striking attack
cause of burns phosphor used
grenade turya kamilla plane school hit
bomb and phosphorus threw explosion sound
When we heard, we went to school and my daughter was among them
when we went to the scene high school
we saw the wrong situations of their students
Even the student’s lifeless body
there were around 60 injured people
life threatening of some injured
in Hatay and its districts
more wounded in hospitals
in the area of ​​Rasulayn with the possibility of
between PYD and Al Nusra forces
clashes continue and bullets bounce
Resul the same border neighbor Ceylanpınar
threatens his district
conflicts in that area
intensified anti-aircraft and gunfire
Meanwhile a bullet that crosses the border
Süleyman Doğantekin in Ceylanpınar
injured in the abdomen hit
Doğantekin was dispatched to Şanlıurfa
teachers’ house near the border
an anti-aircraft gun hitting the wall
bullets also caused panic in the restaurant
customers and employees panicked
took a look at themselves
explosion sounds came out
can hit the interior