Omran, Symbol of Aleppo’s Suffering, Serving Regime Propaganda Machine

In the struggle over images in the Syrian war, Zaman al-Wasl accuses the regime of appropriating Omran's grief following interview with state TV

Is the recent ad by Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain connecting Omran Daqneesh, the young boy who became the symbol of Aleppo’s suffering, with the scene of a suicide attack aimed at presenting the regime as innocent while blaming Al-Qaeda and the jihadist factions for all violations in Syria?

Kinana Allouche, a pro-regime presenter, published a picture of her and Omran which she took in his parents' home in Aleppo on Monday evening. Allouche’s post comes after Zain’s advertisement stirred much discontent among Syrians and those supporting their cause. They argued that Zain’s advertisement exonerated the regime of its crimes and transferred the crimes and blame to jihadists fighting for Syria.

Allouche is one of the regime’s most infamous reporters, who earned fame for publishing selfies with the corpses of opposition fighters. But this time she appears differently, holding Omran and smiling. The photograph and publicity represent the regime media’s new face and are part of its attempt to present a new facade for Syrian political life with international and Arab support.

Regime supporters on social media considered the interview a victory for the regime and other elements supposedly fighting jihadism in Syria. The interview supports the regime’s claim that it represents secularism and is fighting jihadists and extreme Islamist factions in Syria.

The photo of Omran Daqneesh’s shocked face captured the world’s attention and prompted the people to demand action against the regime and its atrocities. But the Assad regime is not only trying to appropriate Omran’s image, but counter the truth of the image and its political testament to the regime’s criminality.

Hussein Murtada, a correspondent for Iran's Al-Aalam television who is known for its strong opposition to the Syrian revolution, published a short interview with Omran's family. In the interview, the boy’s father said he was financially and psychologically pressured to accuse the regime and that he is still living in his house which was neither damaged nor bombed.

Omran’s father explained that what happened to his son was a media fabrication and that media representatives offered him, via intermediaries, financial sums that reached up to $10,000 if they could use his son for a photograph.

The struggle between the regime's media and supporters and images showing its violence and injustice seem to be at its peak. The struggle over images reflects the ferocity of the war against the revolution.

The opposition’s attempts at promoting Omran’s image to raise awareness of the suffering may come back to haunt it, as its claims that Omran and his family are in Turkey are disproved. It appears Omran is in fact in the regime’s grasp, and more specifically in Kinana Allouche’s lap.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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