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Syria engulfed in brutal war? Not to hear al-Assad's Instagram tell it

By CNN Staff
updated 1:32 PM EDT, Tue August 27, 2013
On his new Instagram account, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen greeting and listening intently to a group of women. On his new Instagram account, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen greeting and listening intently to a group of women.
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Syria's president on Instagram
Syria's president on Instagram
Syria's president on Instagram
Syria's president on Instagram
Syria's president on Instagram
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Syrian president's Instagram account filled with photos of him, first lady being caring
  • Absent are images of war, though some postings show him meeting relaxed soldiers
  • Some Instagram users call account "BS"; others proclaim, "#LongLiveBasharAlAssad"

(CNN) -- August in Syria kicked off with an ammo depot blast killing 40 people, followed by news that U.N. inspectors were probing claims that regime forces had used chemical weapons.

On Monday, U.N. inspectors were reportedly fired on by snipers while driving to investigate a new alleged chemical attack, one that has the U.S. moving warships closer to Syria and mulling military intervention.

Yet to hear President Bashar al-Assad's Instagram account tell the story, it's been all about feeding the hungry, science Olympiads and widespread support for al-Assad and his wife.

There are no ugly images of bloody battlefields in the brutal civil war. Instead, it's photo after photo of him and his wife being caring -- and lots of pictures of him being mobbed, greeted and hugged by adoring masses.

In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
Syrian civil war in photos
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Syrian civil war in photos Syrian civil war in photos
Hagel: U.S. strikes 'ready to go'
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Syrian conflict spills over into region

The only mention of the war that has dominated headlines outside of Syria -- and has killed, according to U.N. estimates, more than 100,000 of al-Assad's countrymen -- comes in the captions beneath photos of the president shaking hands with soldiers "protecting civilians" and "regaining security and stability" in Darraya.

The soldiers appear at ease and enthusiastic about al-Assad's visit, rather than in a state of war. That was August 1.

The following day, the account featured file images of "Captain" Assad building camps and moving beds with his "comrades" in Syria in 1994, about six years before he took the country's helm from his father.

The rest of the month, according to the account, has been packed with diplomatic functions, awards ceremonies, and his wife, Asma, tossing salad, stirring pots and filling bowls as Muslims broke fast in the evenings of the Ramadan holy month.

Some of the president's almost 34,000 Instagram followers seem to sense spin in the postings, with one asking of the notoriously fashion-conscious first lady, "So she managed to find time to stop shopping for shoes?" and another demanding photos of her Christian Louboutins, the brand of posh, French shoes that can command upward of $1,000 a pair.

Almost as common as the comments asserting, "What a load of BS this account is" are followers offering warm wishes of "God bless you," "We love you" and "We want you to win this war." Some supporters have even employed a "#LongLiveBasharAlAssad" hashtag.

The embattled president announced he was adding Instagram to his social media blitz last month via a message posted to his Twitter account. He began posting photos July 24.

He also has his own Facebook page and a YouTube channel.

READ: For U.S., Syria is truly a problem from hell

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin, Ben Brumfield and Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

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