A Swiss cardiologist has come under fire for claiming that the White Helmets had faked a photo of a victim of a chemical weapons attack and not deleting his original disinformative tweet.
In a tweet posted on April 14, Thomas Binder said "As a cardiologist I can say that these ECG electrodes are completely wrong positioned. They would not get any signal. This picture is faked!" jumping to the conclusion that the whole attack was staged by the White Helmets.
His tweet garnered more than 13,000 likes and 12,000 retweets.
However, as seen in his thread, the cardiologist does later admit that he was wrong, saying he only saw the electrodes in the center. However his apology hasn't caught on nearly as much as his accusation, as some Twitter users have pointed out.
1. Cardiologist alleges White Helmets faked photos because EEG pads are misplaced: 12,000 retweets— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) April 17, 2018
2. Cardiologist admits he was mistaken & the EEG pads are placed correctly: 22 retweets pic.twitter.com/RQ5HlagFXs
Other medical students, fellow cardiologists and health care professionals have also discredited his claims, saying the leads were taped appropriately and the placement would indeed give a viable reading.
As a 4th semester nursing student let me educate you on lead placement. Placing the LL and RL leads on the abdomen can interfere with reading due to movement of the abdomen. You can get a viable read from this placement. I've done it in he ED multiple times.— Nathan Cook (@NathanCookNM) April 15, 2018
Binder's mea culpa has also been criticized for not being sincere; for using the opportunity as another dig at the Syrian rescue workers instead of bringing the truth to light.
The tweets come amid photographs purporting to show the White Helmets staging a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, which were found out to be actually taken from a film set.
The White Helmets, a humanitarian organization made up of some 3,000 volunteers, has regularly been the target of disinformation campaigns by the Syrian regime and conspiracy theorists online.
The photos -- which show actors covered in dust, with bloody makeup and a clapper board -- were presented by supporters of Bashar Assad as proof that the alleged chlorine and sarin gas attack in the opposition-held town of Douma on April 7 was fake.
But the photos come from the set of a Syrian film called "Revolution Man", supported by the Syrian culture ministry, and were published in February on a Facebook page devoted to the movie, according to Factuel, an AFP fact-checking blog.
The film's premiere was also reported by the official Syrian news agency SANA on March 9 -- a month before the alleged chemical attack.
According to SANA, the film tells the story of a journalist in search of fame "who illegally enters Syria to take pictures and videos of the war".
After failing to achieve his goal, he "fabricates a chemical attack to give his photos a global impact", the agency said.
The investigative site Bellingcat reported the pictures were also shared by the Russian public channel Russia 1, which presented them as proof that the chemical attack was fake.
On April 7 the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the White Helmets jointly said dozens of people died in a "poisonous chlorine gas attack" in Douma.
The White Helmets has often conducted daring rescues of people trapped in the rubble of bomb sites and their videos have frequently gone viral online.
The group has been credited with saving thousands of civilian lives.