Saturday 28 February 2015

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad joins Instagram in bold PR move

Pictures show he and his wife wiping the tears from children's faces and visiting the sick in hospital

James Legge

Published 31/07/2013 | 12:23

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, has launched a new propaganda arm, on the popular online photo-sharing platform Instagram.
Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, has launched a new propaganda arm, on the popular online photo-sharing platform Instagram.
Set up just last week, the account provides his followers with pictures of Assad and his wife happily touring the war-torn country.
The account features numerous pictures of the Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad, who grew up in Britain before marrying Mr Assad in 2000.
The account was only launched last week, around the same time that the Syrian civil war's death toll surpassed 100,000 bodies, a rate of 7,000 deaths per month.
Despite the account only having existed for one week, it has already uploaded more than 50 photos and garnered over 1,200 subscribers.
Instagram is a social media platform which allows users to change the appearance of their photographs using a selection of filters, effects which change the photographs to give a more ‘polaroid’ look. Few, if any, of President Assad’s photos appear to have been altered.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, has launched a new propaganda arm, on the popular online photo-sharing platform Instagram.

Set up just last week - a few days after his forces killed scores of rebels in an ambush in Damascus, and a few days before they took the heart of the strategically-important city of Homs - the account provides his followers with pictures of Assad and his wife happily touring the war-torn country.

In a bold international PR move for a man accused by the US and UK of using the nerve agent sarin against his own people, Assad and his wife Asma can be seen greeting loyal citizens, wiping the tears from children's faces, and visiting the sick in hospital.

The conflict, now in its third year, is fought between the regime and anti-government rebels, mostly from the disparate Free Syrian Army. It has spilled periodically across Syria's borders with Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, threatening to engulf the region.

Tensions in the country are running high with dozens of people reportedly killed in sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

The stakes have been raised recently with the intervention of the Shia Hezbollah militia on the pro-government side, fuelling anger among Lebanon's Sunnis. Hezbollah fighters were reportedly instrumental last month in the fall of the formerly rebel-held city of Qusayr, which tipped the balance of the conflict in Assad's favour.

Independent News Service

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