US-funded Syrian opposition groups are exploiting the refugee crisis to gain popularity with young people across the Middle East and Europe.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Stanford University suggests the US military is using the “sensationalism and misinformation” of Syria’s civil war to generate support in communities in the West and the East.
The study, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, examined the role of social media platforms in the promotion of the anti-government rebels by showing how Facebook and Twitter, two of the most popular platforms for disseminating information about Syria, are particularly effective in driving social support for armed groups.
“In terms of social and media manipulation, these platforms are the dominant platforms in shaping the Syrian opposition narrative,” said study author Michael T. O’Brien, a professor of psychology and public affairs at UCLA.
“The Syrian civil war is a highly divisive issue.
Many people have differing opinions on how to resolve the conflict.
Some see the civil war as the fault of the Syrian regime and others see it as a necessary part of the democratic process.
The narratives and narratives that are generated by these platforms influence the perception of the conflict and the behavior of the opposition.”
Syrian rebel groups have been using social media to attract young people to join their ranks.
In one recent case, a Facebook post claimed that the Syrian National Council, a pro-government group, had been kidnapped and had been taken to a military base in Idlib.
A photo of the rebel leader appeared alongside a message urging people to help the man by donating to his group.
“Don’t think that we are the only ones that want to help this man.
We are not,” read the post.
“Our hearts are with the family and friends of this man.”
The caption added that he was “the last person who was left behind” by the Assad regime.
The message was a reference to a recent video in which a masked man said his group would “help the Syrian people and the Syrian army”.
The video had been posted on the Facebook account of the FSA, which is considered a terrorist group by the US and other western countries.
Syrian opposition groups have used social media sites to spread their message, and the US has supported them with weapons, training and funding.
The US military has provided arms and logistical support to the rebels, but the group’s leaders have been accused of human rights abuses, including torture and murder.
Since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, more than 90,000 people have been killed, according to the UN, and nearly 400,000 have been displaced.
Syria’s civil conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
More than 200,000 Syrians have been detained and over two million have been forced to flee their homes.