Did an elderly Syrian woman really call IS fighters ‘donkeys’?

“Marvellous, an old lady teaches Islamic State fighters a lesson they won’t forget,” says the caption under the video. But who exactly are the men she’s scolding?

More than a million people on Facebook have watched an online video of an elderly Syrian woman scolding two fighters, her speech peppered with profanities. “Return to God!” the woman yells at the men in the car who are filming her. “Don’t slaughter anyone and no one should slaughter you … it’s all haram [sinful] … neither you nor Bashar [Assad] will win anything.” She then curses as she describes the current situation in Syria. The two men respond by saying they don’t have time for her, but she continues to give them a piece of her mind.

Ultimately she calls them “donkeys”, and they laugh.

The video was uploaded onto Facebook by Bint Jbeil, a southern Lebanese website popular with the country’s Shia Muslim population. The website billed it as an old woman scolding fighters from Islamic State. BBC Trending hasn’t been able to verify who the woman is, nor exactly where the video was shot, although it does appear to be within Syria.

But are men being shouted at actually Islamic State fighters, or are they from a different armed group? BBC Trending found that at least three other versions of the same video were uploaded to YouTube in the days before the Facebook post was published. These appeared under different titles which suggest the incident occurred in the town of Daraa (a town in south-west Syria not under IS control) and that the men were actually with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a rebel force that is Western- and Gulf Arab-backed. The earlier versions of the videos – none of which mentioned IS – were only viewed a few hundred times.

The YouTube videos show a bit more of one of the men in the car, and he appears in military fatigue trousers. However, experts on Syria told Trending that because it is difficult to be certain where video was shot, it’s not possible to ascertain which fighting faction the old woman was speaking to. We spoke to Bint Jbeil’s website admin, Hassan Baidoun, and he said that someone they didn’t know sent them the video in an email, and that the anonymous sender claimed it showed IS fighters. “We’re not sure if she was speaking to IS fighters, they could be FSA or al-Nusra Front, but we can’t tell” Baidoun admitted.

More than 2,000 people commented on the video and many of them were sceptical of the claims that the fighters were from Islamic State. “If they were IS they would have killed her,” one Syrian said.

source: BBC NEWS / Blog by Mai Noman

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