With the rise in the deaths of unarmed civilians, defections from the Syrian regime have now extended to the virtual world with Aleppo News Network, one of the units of what is commonly known as the electronic army, declaring its support for the revolution.
“After the massacres committed in Homs by our security forces which slaughtered people and stripped women, we have become ashamed of being Syrian,” said the statement posted Monday on the ANN website.
In the statement, the news network stressed that from that day it would have nothing to do with the Syrian regime and announced joining the ranks of the revolutionaries.
“We declare our full support of the people in their attempt to preserve its dignity.”
The declaration of defection triggered a virtual war between supporters and detractors of the decision of the network, whose website boosts more than 50,000 members.
“The end is near, butcher, and you will fall like all other tyrants did,” wrote one supporter of ANN’s defection declaration.
“Damn you! The Syrian army will crush you parasites,” wrote a regime loyalist on ANN.
The website was flooded with threats by several supporters of President Bashar al-Assad who vowed to retaliate on the defectors and predicted their imminent death.
The war of words between pro-regime supporters and their revolutionary compatriots mirror the sharp change ANN has undergone and which was demonstrated by the stark contrast between the headlines before and after the defection.
“Let your enemies be killed by the power of you smile,” wrote ANN Monday in praise of Assad.
The next day, ANN headline read, “We call upon our brethren in all other news networks that support the murderers to defect and go back to their sanity.”
The declaration of defection was immediately followed by testimonials of the ANN administrators who admitted to having followed all the instructions given to them by the Syrian intelligence.
“We lived in a dark cellar where we wrote what security and intelligence dictated to us,” wrote one ANN administrator.
“It was very hard to be muffled and tied up,” he added.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)