Millions of Syrians are using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Skype to disseminate and discuss the conflict. Each week Syria Deeply monitors the online conversation in English and Arabic, pulling out the highlights in a feature called the Social Media Buzz.
After a deadly car bomb detonated near the Baath Party headquarters in Damascus on Thursday, both the Assad regime and its opponents seemed to agree on a basic principle: attacks on civilians must be condemned. But that unity wasn’t destined to last.
The usual suspects behind such explosions, Jabhat Al Nusra, which the U.S. says has links to Al Qaeda in Iraq, didn’t claim responsibility for the attack. That left many opposition activists speculating that the government may have orchestrated the bombing.
Yassin Haj Saleh, a prominent liberal dissident, raised the suspicion, and linked to a video showing similarities between unexploded bombs from the Damascus attack and the Syrian regime’s notorious barrel bombs. He also condemned the government for launching Scud missiles on civilians, as a way of marking the hypocrisy of the Assad regime’s condemnation of terrorist attacks.
Dozens of civilians were killed in multiple Scud attacks in Aleppo last week. Videos of the destruction (below) filled social media streams, along with heart-wrenching pictures of dead children, fueling the sense of anger and abandonment toward the international community that has spread among Syrians. (In an echo of their frustration, Robert Ford, the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, used Facebook to register his condemnation of the Scud attack).
The increased deployment of Scuds was an unwelcome addition to the archives of instruments of war captured by Syrian citizen journalists, then picked up by the global press.
This escalation of violence and the seeming futility of the major powers to end the bloodshed were cited as the reasons behind the National Coalition’s choice to boycott upcoming meetings in Washington and Moscow, as well as the Friends of Syria gathering in Rome. Moaz Al Khatib, the president of the National Coalition, broke the news on traditional media and then returned to Facebook diplomacy to affirm the message.
Al Khatib’s move appeared to have wide backing from the Coalition and received immediate positive feedback online.
Hamza Al Khatib, the 13-year-old boy from Daraa who was tortured to death in May 2011 and became an early symbol of the revolution, was remembered on social media this week. An activist in Deraa uploaded a video (below) of his tombstone, which was damaged from the shelling f a graveyard in the southern province.