Syria’s Information War: Regime, Rebels Hack to Spread Narratives

Fake Claims of Rebel Collapse, Assad's Death Add to Confusion

The message was clear: Russian diplomats in Damascus yesterday reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad is dead.

Except he wasn’t. The tweets seemed legitimate and President Assad’s death gained such currency that he had to make a special appearance on state TV to confirm that he was actually alive.

This is just the latest in a long line of examples of the “information war” between Syria’s regime and rebels. Rebels had hacked the Twitter account to make false proclamations of Assad’s death. It wasn’t the last time this was going to happen, either, as Reuters lost one of their Twitter accounts to a pro-regime group that was announcing a virtual rebel collapse in Aleppo. Reuters also said to shut down their blog system after several fake blog posts were made related to the Syrian civil war.

The real news coming out of Syria has been extremely scarce, with a lot of outlets trying to make sense of claims by regime and rebels that are often in stark contrast to one another. Now, the media outlets themselves are a battleground to be claimed, and the fog of war has gotten even thicker.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • mojo

    Lier lier your pants are on fire, what els these “rebels” would or can do, but speeding a falsified information as their master, the Saudis, UAE and US – EU government falsified democracy, Like governments like rebels.

  • Ben_C

    I don't think these "hacks" were directed by either the "rebels" or the "regime" for several reasons. It seems clear to me this was most likely the work of overzealous independent hackers… The rebels claiming Assad was killed, when he was not, does not make sense for several reasons: the main being it undermines their clear agenda of enticing "intervention" from outside world powers. The regime has State media, so why would they hack onto Reuters to post/tweet talking points which are not their own?

    Yes… there is an "information war"…as there always has been, as there always will be when it comes to these 'types' of 'situations'… Duh…

    Jason…can you briefly recap the run up to the Iraq war? Were the "aluminum tubes", WMDs, ties with Al Qaeda, etc… simply a result of hackers breaking through the Reuters firewall and posting on a blog and "tweeting"??? Was it a lack of western 'reporter' "boots on the ground" in Washington…or even Iraq…at the time??? Is this the argument???

    It wouldn't matter if Aleppo were crawling with 'established' western 'journalists' pumping out 'stories' every five minutes–the 'situation' would be more or less the same. Many, if not most, not realizing this is one of the serious "issues" within the media, as well as the general public at large…