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New Minnesota-based news organization lands in Syrian controversy

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Controversy is swirling around a news story posted by a fledgling Minnesota-based news service that alleges that Syrian rebels had gassed themselves in what was an accident.

The story, published Aug. 29 by the small 1-year-old news organization Mint Press, has garnered international attention. It ran under the byline of Dale Gavlak, who is a veteran journalist from the Middle East who contributes to the Associated Press, but she has been demanding that Mint Press remove her name from the article since it was published – she denies any role in producing it, the Star Tribune reports.

But Mint Press has refused to take Gavlak's name off the story, saying that Gavlak is under pressure to disassociate herself from the story, and that removing her byline "would not be honest journalism.”

In a statement published on the Mint Press website, Mnar Muhawesh, executive director and editor at large for MintPress News, says, "We are aware of the tremendous pressure that Dale and some of our other journalists are facing as a result of this story, and we are under the same pressure as a result to discredit the story."

The article has been used as a focal point for those who have argued that opposition groups, not the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, were likely responsible for a chemical attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, the Star Tribune notes. The Obama administration has said there is no doubt that Assad's regime carried out the attack.

Minneapolis-based Mint Press News, according to its website, "is an independent online news organization providing in-depth, thought-provoking analysis, reporting and political commentary on the most pressing issues facing our nation and our world. We cover national politics, foreign affairs, energy, the environment and civil liberties through the lens of social justice and human rights.

"We have developed a masthead of journalists, academics and political analysts who provide context and insight into issues and stories often overlooked by the current establishment media."

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