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Syrian leader Bashar Asssad joins Instagram in 'despicable PR stunt'

“It is repulsive that the Assad regime would use this to gloss over the brutality and suffering it’s causing”.

Image: @syrianpresidency via Instagram

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR Assad has joined photo-sharing app Instagram in what has been described by the United States as a “despicable PR stunt”.

The account, @syrianpresidency, which has gained more than 28,000 followers and has posted 73 photographs so far in a week, shows polished pictures of Assad and members of his family meeting supporters, attending political rallies, and greeting various officials. One photograph shows Assad working in his office in Damascus while another shows him visiting wounded Syrians in hospital.

It is not the Syrian leader’s first foray into social media: Assad already has a Facebook page with more than 430,000 ‘likes’.

“It’s repulsive that the Assad regime would use this to gloss over the brutality and suffering it’s causing,” a spokesperson for the US State Department said on Wednesday.

The UN estimates that 5,000 people a month are dying in Syria’s bitter civil war which began after his regime began cracking down on Arab Spring protests across the country two years ago. The country has been divided into rebel and government-held territory and the conflict has created the worst refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

A photograph from the @syrianpresidency account published 4 days ago (Image: Instagram)

“To see what’s really happening right now in Syria, to see the horrific atrocities in Homs and elsewhere, we would encourage people to take a look at unfiltered photos of what’s actually happening on the ground,” said spokesperson Marie Harf for the US State Department, saying it was “nothing more than a despicable PR stunt”.

“They [the photos] are not indicative of the horrific situation on the ground,” she said.

Instagram has not commented on the appropriateness of allowing the account to operate.

A photograph of Assad in his office published on the @syrianpresidency account. (Image: Instagram)

Video: Life and death in a makeshift Syrian hospital >

Focus: More than two years of conflict in Syria >

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