In recent months, numerous YouTube creators have flocked to the capital Damascus to film videos showcasing everyday life and nightlife, aiming to portray Syria as a safe country.
However, according to the Syria TV website, the Syrian regime is utilizing Turkish YouTubers to present a distorted image of Syria, particularly Damascus, by downplaying security and economic issues. The regime’s ulterior motive is to fuel a racist bias against the four million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey.
Kemal Can Polat, a Turkish basketball player who is part of the Syrian club Al-Wahda and resides in Damascus, has appeared in multiple videos promoting the restoration of normalcy to the city’s streets. He even travelled to Hama, and recorded a video with a Syrian individual who previously lived in Istanbul, Turkey, but recently returned to areas controlled by the Syrian regime.
Polat has started featuring on an Instagram account called “suriyedebirturkk,” meaning “Turkish in Syria” in Arabic. Through this account, he conducts interviews with Syrians living abroad who have either returned to Syria or visited the country.
In one video, an interviewee who had returned to Syria is asked about his affinity for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In response, the Syrian answers in broken Turkish, saying “Evet,” which means “yes”.
The creation of this Instagram account coincided with an interview conducted by player Can Polat with Ilay Axoy, a former member of the Turkish İYİ Parti and a vocal opponent of Syrian refugees. Axoy later joined the Turkish Democracy Party DP, which also shares an anti-Syrian refugee stance.
Over the past years, Axoy has been attempting to establish a promotional network for the Syrian regime. The objective behind this network is to incite the Turkish population against Syrian refugees in Turkey, placing pressure on both the Syrians and the Turkish government.
The frequency of videos being circulated from inside Syria has recently increased, featuring the participation of Deniz Boustani. Although he presents himself as a Turkish political analyst, he maintains extensive connections with Syrian regime officials and also has strong ties to Axoy. Boustani even ran in the recent Turkish parliamentary elections as a candidate for the Republican People’s Party.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.