Female Syrian Soldiers used for publicity?

Summary: Bashas Al-Assad’s secular Baath party attempts to mobilise ‘progressive’ campaigns, including the liberation and emancipation of Syrian women, specifically through the iconography of the masculine defence force. The visual and discursive representations of the Syrian Army centre on the 800 women that are part of an elite combat unit. This brigade was widely publicised as women enlist voluntarily, are trained and then are dispatched to the front line of combat operations. This is not a radically ‘modern’ turn for the Syrian defence force, as “there have always been women in the Syrian Army,” claims Fabrice Balanche, an academic expert on Syria. A French researcher for CNRS, Zakaria Taha, also claims that, “This allows [Assad’s Baath Party] to be seen from the outside as a secular regime that is both respectful of women’s rights and actively involved in the fight against the Islamist threat. It also legitimises the party in the eyes of Western countries in its fight against Islamist movements as well as giving the party more power to silence the opposition.”

Source: SOURCE: Sarah Leduc, 2015, ‘Assad’s female fighters: Progress or Propaganda?,’ France24, 2 April, (http://www.france24.com/en/20150402-syria-women-soldiers-assad-army-propaganda/)

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