Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Syria and the media: competing narratives (Oct 2017)

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Competing narratives: The fall of Raqqa

How did international news media cover the capture of Raqqa from ISIL?

More than three years ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, which is also known as ISIS) captured the Syrian city of Raqqa and declared it the capital of its «caliphate».

Images that emerged from the city, of atrocities used as propaganda, have been some of the most gruesome and distressing media output to emerge from a war that continues to cause untold suffering.

When the Syrian Democratic Forces finally rolled into al-Naim Square, Western journalists travelling with them told a story of triumph and liberation.

The story that gets told, however, depends on who is telling it.

Consider the difference between how the fall of Raqqa has been covered, by various news organisations, compared with how they reported the fall of Aleppo 15 months ago.

Aleppo had been held by Syrian opposition forces, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Raqqa was in ISIL’s hands. The bombs dropped on Aleppo were Russian, clearing the way for Syrian government troops. Those targeting Raqqa were American, and the ground forces were led by Kurdish fighters.


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