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With the crisis in #Syria reaching another flashpoint, I took a look at who is tweeting about the humanitarian group called the White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef).

In a network analysis of (#)WhiteHelmets, the two largest nodes are pro-Assad, anti-White Helmets propagandists. 1/
@SyriaCivilDef I looked at the tweets corresponding to the nodes in the network graph. The content includes familiar smears -- calling the humanitarian workers terrorists/al-Qaeda, and falsely accusing them of kidnapping and producing fake rescue videos.
@SyriaCivilDef Efforts to smear the White Helmets as terrorists are apparent in a hashtag cloud of 500 recent tweets mentioning (#)WhiteHelmets. Notice the prominence of (#)alQaeda.

Notably, the (#)yellowvests also make an appearance here. 3/
@SyriaCivilDef Recent news coverage of the White Helmets includes a hit piece by Russia's state news agency (TASS) and another hit piece by the pro-Iran-Russia-Syrian propaganda outlet Mint Press News, written by pro-Assad propagandist Vanessa Beeley. 4/
Russia has provided military support for Syria, but perhaps just as importantly, they’ve also waged a years-long information war aimed largely at propping up Assad and demonizing/delegitimizing opponents of the Syrian regime. 5/
Much of the Russian-produced propaganda surrounding the situation in #Syria targets humanitarian workers and opposition fighters, portraying them as “terrorists”.

The goal is to demonize those people so you don’t care when they’re slaughtered by Syrian/Russian forces. 6/
In their words:

“After eight years leading teams of volunteer rescue workers, the White Helmets, I thought I had seen all the horrors possible. But looking at the state of Idlib today, I can honestly say it’s the worst my country has been.” #Syria

I wrote this piece last year, looking at the human factors (social, psychological, political, & cultural) driving the spread of disinformation about the White Helmets in #Syria.

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