Syrian rebel media releases staged White Helmets rescue “mannequin challenge” video — then deletes it

A major Syrian rebel media network published a video that features a staged rescue by the Syrian Civil Defense, known popularly as the White Helmets.

When attention was drawn to the video on social media, it was suddenly quietly removed from YouTube, and references to it on Twitter were deleted.

The Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office, or RFS, published the video on November 18 with the title “Edge of Death.” It subsequently shared the video on its Twitter account with the hashtag #MannequinChallenge.

The tweet, which I archived here, was later deleted.

rfs-white-helmets-tweet-archived

The video is based on the popular “mannequin challenge” meme, in which people stay motionless for several seconds before starting to move again. In this case, a fake rescue operation is choreographed before a supposedly injured man starts crying in agony.

Sometime after 2 PM EST on November 21, when the first version of this article was published, the video was taken off of YouTube.

I also archived the YouTube upload at its original link.

rfs-white-helmets-youtube-archive

I figured the video might be taken down, so I made sure to download it before it was, and have permanently archived it here on my website. You can watch the video below:

The White Helmets, which only operate in territories in Syria controlled by rebels — many of whom are extremists or are tied to extremist groups like rebranded Syrian al-Qaeda (Jabhat Fatah al-Sham), Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, and others — have received millions of dollars in funding from Western governments, including the U.S., U.K., and more.

The Syrian Civil Defense has pushed hard for a so-called “no fly zone” in Syria — a euphemistically named act of war which top officials in the U.S. military have acknowledged could lead to a full-fledged conventional war with Russia. Hawkish former secretary of state Hillary Clinton herself, who repeatedly called for a “safe zones” in Syria during her presidential campaign, admitted in a private 2013 paid speech to Goldman Sachs that creating a no-fly zone would inevitably “kill a lot of Syrians.”

The White Helmets’ public profile has been carefully cultivated by The Syria Campaign, an advocacy group that lobbies for regime change on ostensible humanitarian grounds and that was created by a Western PR firm, with the help of exiled Syrian-British billionaire Ayman Asfari.

(This article was updated at 7:30 PM EST on November 21.)