Coverage of the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria do not accurately reflect the reality on the ground because U.S. television networks are using old footage showing the extremist group's movements, senior officials in the Obama administration have reportedly said. The officials also urged the country’s media outlets to update their recordings of ISIS' activities in the region.
Top officials in the State Department and the Pentagon called on TV networks to stop using “B-roll” -- stock footage that appears on screen with reporters and commentators speaking in the background -- showing ISIS at the peak of its strength last year before coalition strikes began, Politico reported.
“It’s inaccurate -- that’s no longer how ISIL moves. A lot of that footage is from last summer before we began tactical strikes,” Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for retired Gen. John Allen, the State Department’s special envoy for the international coalition against ISIS, told Politico. “We are urging broadcasters to avoid using the familiar B-roll that we’ve all seen before, file footage of ISIL convoys operating in broad daylight, moving in large formations with guns out, looking to wreak havoc.”
A U.S.-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes on ISIS positions and convoys in Iraq and Syria since last August, helping Iraqi security forces retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit, halt ISIS' advance and significantly weaken the Sunni militant group's power. The U.S. and its allies have dropped thousands of bombs on the group's positions and, according to U.S. officials, ISIS militants now fear to assemble in daylight or move in large convoys as they can be easily spotted and hit by fighter jets from above, Politico reported.
Correspondents from several networks have reportedly been contacted by U.S. officials in informal settings, asking them to use alternate imagery, including footage of U.S. military training Iraqi security forces as well as videos of airstrikes against ISIS fighters.
Last September, the Pentagon released videos and images of airstrikes targeting oil refineries controlled by ISIS in eastern Syria. And videos released by the U.S. Department of Defense showed overnight airstrikes on the Jeribe and Mayadin refineries. Before and after images also showed the aftermath of the airstrikes.
While some experts speculate that the Obama administration might want to provide footage from their own tactical strikes in an attempt to control the information the American public receives about ISIS, Horne insisted that the government’s main goal is the accurate reporting of facts, according to Politico.
“What we’re pointing out is something that we think is inaccurate,” Horne reportedly said, adding that the existing footage could contribute toward ISIS propaganda. “When that file footage gets out there it actually risks bolstering their image, and can contribute to foreign fighter recruitment and supporting the myth of their invincibility.”