STOCKHOLM (AFP) - A viral video showing a Syrian boy rescuing a girl under gunfire, watched online by millions of viewers, was faked by a Norwegian film crew, the BBC reported.
Posted on YouTube on Monday, the "Syrian hero boy" video was shot on location in Malta last May with professional actors, and directed by 34-year-old Norwegian director Lars Klevberg, who hoped to create a debate on children in war zones. "If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope," Mr Klevberg told the BBC on Friday.
"The motivation behind the production and the Internet release of the film was to spur debate, urge action on behalf of innocent children all over the world who are affected by war," Klevberg said in a press release posted on Twitter on Friday night. "We are pleased that the film spread widely and that the debate has indeed focused on the children's lives during war."
In the film, a young boy braves sniper fire and appears to be shot while rescuing a girl hiding behind a burned car in what seems to be war-torn Syria. The video, which had been seen more than six million times by Saturday amid an online debate about its authenticity, received funding from the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI).
The behind the scenes video can be seen here:
The video went viral after the production team uploaded it on YouTube and sent it out on Twitter to generate a debate.
According to the BBC, the filmmakers never hid their intention of uploading the video without specifying whether it was real or fiction in their funding applications.
The Syrian conflict started almost four years ago, born out of the upheaval of the Arab Spring protests.
More than 195,000 people have been killed in the war and more than half the population of the country has been forced to flee.
The Syrian civil war is of great concern to Norway, which has one of the highest rates per capita of nationals who have travelled to fight in it.
According to the intelligence services, some 50 individuals with links to the Nordic country have fought or are fighting in Syria, about half of whom have returned.