With conflicts in the Middle East ongoing, it is up to the media to inform us about what is happening on the battlefield. Both Mosul in Iraq and Aleppo in Syria are cities held by armed groups, surrounded by avenging armies and bombarded by international air power. But with all the geopolitics in play, reporting from the field is seldom black and white.

In the case of Mosul, it is easier to identify the good and the bad guys because the conflict is, seemingly, more clear cut. However, where Aleppo is concerned, the complexity of the situation lends itself to confused reports and feedback. 

Most of the fog of war is about the editorial line and it's about certain prejudices existing in societies.

Dmitry Babich, journalist, Sputnik International

"There is a simplistic notion about extremists versus moderates and this has made the situation on the ground appear to be a clear battle between those who have a jihadist tag versus those who don't," says Lina Khatib, head of the MENA programme at Chatham House, an international affairs think-tank based in London. "If we compare what is happening on the ground with Mosul, we have the paramilitary forces and the militias taking part in this battle. And these are characterised positively or negatively, depending on who is doing the reporting." 

But with endless media offices, across numerous cities, reporting on the same multi-layered situation and catering to the same, limited number of viewers, the fog surrounding the truth of war is here to stay. 

"Thirty or 40 years ago, the fog of war was about the difficulties of getting to certain places, the difficulties of filming there. Now the fog of war is mostly inside the editorial offices of various media outlets. The media in the West doesn't notice the civilian casualties in Mosul, just like the Russian media doesn't always notice the civilian casualties in Aleppo," says Dmitry Babich, journalist for news agency Sputnik International. 

Talking us through the story are: Dmitry Babich, journalist, Sputnik International; Howard Amos, independent journalist, Russia; Lina Khatib, head of the MENA programme, Chatham House; and Kim Sengupta, defence editor, The Independent (UK).

Source: Al Jazeera