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The Syrian information ministry cancelled the BBC’s radio and television correspondents’ licences
Syria

Syrian government revokes BBC media accreditation over drug documentary

The announcement was made days after BBC Arabic released an investigative documentary looking into the illicit drugs trade in Syria.

SYRIA’S INFORMATION MINISTRY has cancelled the BBC’s media accreditation, accusing the broadcaster of biased and fake news in its coverage of the war-torn country.

The announcement comes days after BBC Arabic released an investigative documentary about the illicit drugs trade in Syria, where the broadcaster highlighted links between the estimated multi-billion-dollar industry and the Syrian army as well as members of President Bashar Assad’s family.

The Syrian information ministry said in a statement that the decision was made after “warning the channel more than once that it has broadcasted its misleading reports relying on statements and testimonies from terrorist entities and those hostile to Syria”.

Damascus revoked the licences of both the broadcaster’s radio and television correspondents in Syria, as well as their videographer. 

“We speak to people across the political spectrum to establish the facts,” the BBC said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press (AP), adding that the broadcaster provided “impartial independent journalism”.

“We will continue to provide impartial news and information to our audiences across the Arabic-speaking world,” the statement said.

The illicit drugs industry, most notably the addictive Captagon amphetamine pills, has boomed in war-torn Syria in recent years. 

embedded8581376 The documentary highlighted links between the drugs industry and members of President Bashar Assad’s family Alamy / PA Alamy / PA / PA

While experts say it has been a way to generate revenue for the country’s crippled economy and sanctioned leadership, it has been the scourge of neighbouring Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as other Gulf countries.

Captagon has been used both recreationally and by people with physically demanding jobs to keep them alert, as well as fighters on the battlefield.

The UK, United States and European Union have sanctioned a handful of drug kingpins and close associates of Assad for their involvement in the trade.

The Syrian government denies any involvement in the production of Captagon.

A Syrian parliamentarian told AP last month that Syria had been used as a transit state for Captagon and other drugs, and accused opposition groups of running the industry.

After Syria restored relations with many of its neighbouring countries and returned to the Arab fold, cracking down on drug smuggling has been a key issue in regional talks.

Syria’s uprising – which turned into a full-blown civil war, now in its 13th year – has killed nearly half-a-million people and displaced half of its prewar population of 23 million.

Syrians in both government-held territory and an opposition-held enclave in the country’s northwest suffer from poverty and crippled infrastructure.

Author
Press Association
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