Anatomy of reports of an airstrike

An alleged airstrike on Albukamal (البوكمال) on September 9. How it unfolded in media provides lessons for media coverage and the role of social media. It also shows how information is developed and spread from various sources.


June 18, 2019

Airstrike hits Albukamal Kata’ib Hezbollah base

July 5 2018

Image Sat International publishes images of ‘Iranian land bridge to Syria through Iraq and Albukamal’

May 23, 2019

Fox News reports Image Sat International images of Albukamal “Iran building new crossing.”

August 28

Opening of Albukamal border crossing delayed until September 7

September 2

Hezbollah commander reported missing in area of Albukamal

September 3

FoxNews: Iran building new classified military base in Syria at Albukamal. Image Sat International images show base.

September 7 Anadolu: US reinforcing Al-Asad Air base

The airstrikes

September 8

11:28 Deir Ezzor 24 unidentified planes overfly area

11:35 pm Omar Abu Layla: unidentified planes overfly Albukamal, Deir Ezzor 24

September 9

1:03am Omar Abu Layla: A numbers of air strikes targeting Iranian militia positions now in Al-#Bukamal city, in addition to a number of missiles of unidentified origins.

1:07am So far, 8 rockets have targeted #Iranian militia headquarters in Al-#Bukamal, one of which landed in the city’s industrial district. @DeirEzzor24

1:20am Jerry Maher “Iraqi sectarian militias being targeted in Albukamal.”

1:22am Sky News Arabia: Activists say raids targeted IRGC in Albukamal

1:26am Al-Arabiya reports airstrikes on Albukamal targeting headquarters of Iraqi militias

1:28am Al-Arabiya breaking: Shelling targeted Al-Abdil and Haidarion militias (الأبدال وحيدريون)

1:35 am WithinSyria: air defense not active

1:37 am Sufian Samarai: Hezbollah and Haidarion gangs targeted [in airstrike]

1:55am Al-Hurra reports on SOHR report about airstrikes “unidentified aircraft” target Iranian positions, full report

2:36am Video published

2:53am Al-Balad: Three explosions heard.


3:00am Bassam: Airstrike targeted Imam Ali complex

3:38am Al-Masdar: Unconfirmed reports of an airstrike

8:52am video

9;28 am Israel’s Ynet reports airstrike

9:30 am Al-Arabiya breaking: 18 killed – SOHR, full report

Unknown time: SOHR report

10:53 am IDF statement that Shi’ite militias attempted to fire rockets : “IDF: Earlier this morning, a number of rockets were launched from Syria towards Israel, all failed to hit Israeli territory. The rockets were launched from the outskirts of Damascus by Shiite militia operatives operating under the Iranian Quds Force. The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for all events taking place in Syria.”

11:30am Avichay Adraee: “We are warning the regime of #Bashar _ Assad that he will pay a high price for his … and Shia militias to work from within his territory where he irritates him, and even collaborate with it. This thing is not hidden on us. And they have been forgiven.In the early morning hours, a failed launch of a number of rocket shells from #Syria that did not cross into #Israel where they were launched by elements in the #Shia _ militias led by the Iranian #Jerusalem _ Corps from the outskirts of #Damascus. The #Syrian defense army is responsible for every operation that starts from its territory.”

12:19pm Wesal TV: Al-Abdil and Al-Nujaba members killed, 18 killed, 32 wounded

1:26 pm Bassam Jaara: Media reveals number of casualties, 18 killed 38 wounded

1:32 BBC reports on ‘air strikes’

2:41 Sputnik: PMU deploys to Al-Qaim across border

3:00pm Al-Hadath: aircraft raid Albukamal

3:30 pm Abdul Rahman of SOHR to Al-Hadath: Israel may behind it, full report

4:19pm Image Sat International: Stay tuned

4:30pm al-Hadath: Israel obtained permission of coalition


RT Arabic: Opening of border crossing postponed, also reported due to US pressure

4:35pm Orient News: Video shows moment of bombing

4:53 pm Social media posts video of Sadr in Iraq saying militias are not in Syria with permission of government

5:09pm airstrike killed 18 pro-Iranian elements.

5:26pm Israel’s Channel 12 discusses the airstrike

5:32 pm Tom Cat: I doubt it was an airstrike.

6:30pm First satellite images show damaged warehouses

8:00pm Image Sat International tweets satellite images of destroyed warehouses

9:30 pm Al-Arabiya “full details” of air strike

9:59pm Tom Cat: “Al-Abdal Movement confirmed that Imam Ali Base was hit with 6 missiles from direction of Tanf. This camp is the site for the Iraqi units headquartered at Albu Kamal.”

10:00pm Al-Hadath “Iraqi researcher Iyad al-Anaz: Albukamal attack comes as part of America’s strategy to target pro-Iranian militias and organizations inside Syrian and Iraqi territories.”

10:34pm Within Syria: A source tells Al-Mayadeen that an “under construction base” near al-Bukamal was targeted by Israel on September 8…The source held the U.S. and Israel responsible for the airstrikes, saying that the attack “crossed a red line”…The source said that the base was empty during the airstrikes, thus there was no injures. He added that the base was built to house soldiers away from civilian areas….According to the Syrian source, Israeli warplanes used Jordan’s airspace, received support from U.S. coalition forces in al-Tanaf.”

My full report at The Jerusalem Post on the airstrike can be found here

Also my new book After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East can be found here, now available on Kindle too


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