Citing leaked documents, the investigative journalism group Grayzone revealed in a report published on its news website on Wednesday that Western governments and their affiliated news agencies carefully organized English- and Arabic-language media coverage of the war in Syria to drum up support for the militant groups there.
“Virtually every aspect of the Syrian opposition was cultivated and marketed by Western government-backed public relations firms, from their political narratives to their branding, from what they said to where they said it,” the article said.
The group said US and European contractors trained and advised Syrian “opposition” leaders, including young media activists, at all levels and organized interviews for them on mainstream outlets such as the BBC and the UK’s Channel 4.
“Western government public relation firms not only influenced the way the media covered Syria, but as the leaked documents reveal, they produced their own propagandistic pseudo-news for broadcast on major TV networks in the Middle East, including BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Orient TV,” Grayzone said.
The UK-funded firms functioned full-time to serve the militant outfits in Syria, according to the article, with one contractor, called InCoStrat, saying it was in constant contact with a network of more than international 1,600 journalists and “influencers,” and used them to promote anti-Damascus narratives.
The leaked documents also revealed that the Western government contractor, ARK, had played a role in “popularizing” the so-called civil defense group the White Helmets in American and European media.
“ARK ran the social media accounts of the White Helmets, and helped turn the Western-backed group into a key propaganda weapon of the Syrian opposition,” the article said.
The so-called White Helmets have been implicated by Syria and its ally Russia in numerous violations, including working with Takfiri militants in the Arab country and staging false-flag gas attacks to be blamed on Damascus as an excuse for Western allies to attack Syria.
ARK also ran an anti-Damascus propaganda outlet called Moubader, which developed a huge following on social media, including more than 200,000 likes on Facebook. The Western government contractor also printed 15,000 copies per month of a “high-quality hard copy” Moubader magazine and distributed in militant-held areas of Syria.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.
Idlib, in northwestern Syria, and small parts of an adjacent area in Aleppo form the only large areas in the hands of militants after the Syrian military managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.
Idlib is now held by an array of militants dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Takfiri group, which is led by members of the former al-Qaeda franchise.
The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.