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This Is Why Bana Alabed's Picture Is Being Used In Trolls' Tweets About Venezuela

Bana Alabed, whose dispatches from Aleppo made her famous, is now featuring in trolls' tweets about Venezuela.

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The Syrian girl is Bana Alabed — an 8-year-old who became widely followed online after she started tweeting from Aleppo during the government siege of the city last year.

Good afternoon from #Aleppo I'm reading to forget the war.

After her story went viral, Bana and her mother (who runs the account) were interviewed by a number of international media outlets. Her family has now been granted asylum in Turkey, but she still tweets about the situation in Syria.

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Bana has often been trolled by pro-Assad Syrian and Russian Twitter accounts, as well as by some Russian media outlets. Her images are frequently shared, usually without her knowledge or consent.

Syrian journalist Leith Abou Fadel is among those who have tweeted about Bana. He's also been on her case for a while.

So the real reason why Bana was not transported to safety sooner was because her father was one of the rebels....go… https://t.co/d1sVx1owys

Fadel is an editor of the pro-Assad news outlet Al-Masdar, which earlier this year promoted a hoax that the Assad government was not responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack, Business Insider reported. The website has also published stories attempting to discredit Bana in the past.

As a result, he’s been on the radar of a number of Russian accounts, including @Antikaratel, who has been tweeting — almost entirely without response — at Fadel since November 2015.

Twitter: @Antikaratel

@Antikaratel's VK account says he is based inside the Russian-backed so-called People’s Republic of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

He has been attacking Bana's mother's Twitter account since the beginning of the year.

Anyway, last week, Fadel tweeted that US Sen. John McCain would visit Venezuela to support the “Free Venezuela Army,” after condemning the situation in the country.

Free Venezuelan Army...John McCain will be visiting Venezuela soon. "We need to give the heroes fighting there patr… https://t.co/28ICdTsQAC

Two things: 1) This was a thin joke on the Free Syrian Army, one of a number of rebel groups operating in Syria. 2) The group (among others) was armed by the US, under the Obama administration.

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Also, in case you haven't been following: Venezuela is currently in a state of chaos, both politically and economically.

Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

Nicolás Maduro, the leader of a once-popular socialist government, has started jailing (and potentially abusing) political opponents following a dubious election result. Venezuela's economy has been in free fall for months, leaving much of the population starving. Thousands have taken to the streets to protest and call on Maduro to resign. He hasn't.

That changed after @Antikaratel’s tweet, which prompted a bunch of pro-Russia accounts to start using Bana’s image.

Профессиональная потерпевшая девочка Бана теперь в Венесуэле.

Caption: "Professional victim girl Bana now in Venezuela."

Dear D.Trump my name is Buanita Bana I'm a 7 years old little girl from Caracas...please save the children of Syr..… https://t.co/zFLh1hZNQu

7-year-old Venezuelan girl, Bana tweets support for President Trump's airstrikes. #Venezuela

Cant let a good trick go to waste! Thank you @sarahabed84 . #Bana. #Syria #Venezuela.

Which is how the image of a Syrian girl from Aleppo who escaped to Turkey traveled across the Atlantic to be used by Russian trolls who are mocking the suggestion that the US is intervening in Venezuela.

Twitter: @lawrencemorton

Neither Bana nor her mother, Fatemah, responded to requests for comment when contacted by BuzzFeed News.

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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