Syria’s war, perhaps unlike any other civil conflict this century, has been uniquely influenced by propaganda. That propaganda has exerted a crucial influence over the course of the war.
Propaganda from the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad underplayed the crimes of the state and emphasised the undesirability of the opposition. It called rebel fighters jihadists and terrorists and justified regime cruelty in fighting them. Propaganda from the regime and its allies minimised the regime’s use of chemical weapons and threw into doubt the reliability of reports of chemical attacks.
Without this element of doubt, fed by propaganda, Western powers may well have intervened in the summer of 2013 against Assad and either limited the scale of his war or overthrown him entirely. Latterly, propaganda continued to tie rebels and jihadists together and ensured that the global campaign against the Islamic State did not also become a campaign against the Assad regime.