A video broadcast by ABC News, purporting to show a recent Turkish military force attack on Kurdish fighters was revealed on Monday to have actually been 2017 footage from a Kentucky gun range.
ABC News reported an attack on the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad during its Sunday broadcast World News Tonight and Monday morning broadcast of Good Morning America, but the footage they used appeared to come from Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Ky., according to Gizmodo.
World News Tonight Anchor Tom Llamas presented the footage as an example of “the situation rapidly spiraling out of control in northern Syria,” since President Donald Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops amid a Turkish military incursion in northern Syria has seen various foreign policy and news commentators raise concern for Kurdish fighters likely to be displaced by the loss of support from U.S. forces and the impending Turkish onslaught.
Llamas presented the footage as coming “One week since President Trump ordered U.S. forces out of that region, effectively abandoning America’s allies in the fight against [ISIS].”
“This video right here appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town,” Llamas continued. “The Kurds, who fought alongside the U.S. against ISIS. Now, horrific reports of atrocities committed by Turkish-backed fighters on those very allies.”
ABC News has issued an apology and a correction since the authenticity of the footage was first challenged.
“We’ve taken down video that aired on World News Tonight Sunday and Good Morning America this morning that appeared to be from the Syrian border immediately after questions were raised about its accuracy. ABC News regrets the error,” a spokesperson for the network said.
Spectators could be seen holding cell phones in the original 2017 gun range footage, though those cell phone lights did not appear in ABC News version.
It is not clear if the footage was edited prior to its submission to ABC News.
Gizmodo reported the ABC News video was first questioned by “far-right social media users” and the inaccurate footage is “obviously bad news for people who value accuracy in journalism.” Gizmodo also raised the concern that this latest error in reporting is “sure to provide even more ammunition to pro-Trump supporters who insist that mainstream news outlets are deliberately trying to deceive people.”
“To be clear, there’s no question that Turkish forces are currently slaughtering the Kurds, as countless journalists and civilians on the ground can attest,” the Gizmodo report continued. “But this particular video is fake and it’s a shame that it was broadcast.”
President Trump himself called out the news reporting error as “really gruesome FAKE footage.”
A big scandal at @ABC News. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria. A real disgrace. Tomorrow they will ask softball questions to Sleepy Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, like why did Ukraine & China pay you millions when you knew nothing? Payoff?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2019
Over the weekend Trump authorized sanctions against Turkey to dissuade attacks on the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which have fought alongside U.S. forces in the past and which the Turkish government considers to be “terrorists.” Trump has vowed to “swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy” if they continue to attack Kurdish fighters.