Militant groups operating in the Syrian province of Idlib are actively preparing media infrastructure to carry out a propaganda campaign against the Damascus government and inject fake news fueling the MSM narrative about the “bloody Assad regime”.
While there is little new in this effort, an interesting thing is that Idlib militants appear to be determined to repeat the “little girl blogger” story, which was already used in 2016, during the final phase of the battle for Aleppo city, a part of which was occupied by militant groups.
Then, pro-militant propagandists were using account @AlabedBana [created on September 24, 2016] as an important part of their campaign against the Syrian government and in support of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (now Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra – the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), Nour al-Din al-Zinki (became widely known after filming and posting a boy beheading video) and other “moderate opposition” groups.
The account, which was allegeldy belonging to a 7-yo girl, Bana al-Abed, was used the #HolocaustAleppo, #MassacreInAleppo, #StopAleppoMassacre hashtags and called on the international community to stop the “Assad regime” from killing peaceful people – i.e. members of the aforementioned terrorist groups.
My name is Bana, I’m 7 years old. I am talking to the world now live from East #Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die. – Bana
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 13, 2016
Examples of the content posted by “Bana”:
Initially, the account was pretending that all tweets were written by Bana al-Abed. However, later, after it became clear that the girl hardly spoke English and all videos with her were strongly scripted in that period of her life, the official version changed to that her account was “managed” by her “mom”.
During the entire battle for Aleppo and after it, the MSM was actively exploiting the “little girl blogger under bombs” narrative to slam the ani-terrorist campaign of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance. According to experts and existing data, the “Bana narrative” was a part of the large-scale propaganda campaign coordinated by special services of the US-led bloc to prevent the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies from liberating the city of Aleppo.
Currently, Bana and her family are residing in Turkey, the country that has publicly supported and still supports militant groups operating in Syria. Another intersting fact is that living in Turkey, Bana and her parents continue participating in various propaganda activities, which are fully supported by Turkish media and other MSM outlets.
Her “memoir”, with a hard-core pro-militant look at the developments in Aleppo, was published in a book titled Dear World in 2017.
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) September 14, 2017
In 2017, the history seems to repeat itself in the province of Idlib, a part of which is still in the hands of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies. In July [considering the first post, on July 28], an account of another little girl blogger appeared in Twitter. This time the account is allegedly belonging to 6-yo “Hala” from the city of Idlib [controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham].
The account has already posted a few tweets using the #EyesOnIdlib hashtag. It’s intersting to note that the account was created amid reports about ongoing preparations by the SAA and its allies to deliver a final blow to terrorist groups operating in the militant-held parts of the provinces of Idlib and Latakia.
The account was created ahead of military developments that could take place soon to pretend that this was not a part of the propaganda machine, but a merely “local initiative”.
My name is Hala 6 years from the city of Idlib ? pic.twitter.com/6vxyF4Z2El
— حلا_hala (@hala_syri) 28 July 2018
— حلا_hala (@hala_syri) 5 August 2018
Some journalists from big MSM outlets like BBC, the Middle East Eye and the Huffington Post have subscribed to the account [which has only 243 followers]
When (If) the SAA starts its military operation to defeat Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups in Idlib, this account will likely become another tool used by pro-militant propagandists in their media war against the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance.
The cases of Bana and Hala show how the MSM is ready exploit children for propaganda purposes and to gain additional viwership. At the same time, these children are just victims of journalists and parents that are making money and pursuing own goals exploting them.