Syrian State Media Launches New Hebrew Website

Syria's official SANA news agency wants to 'clarify Syria's image' to Hebrew-speakers, says secretary general.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 1:48 PM

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
AFP photo

The Syrian regime's official news agency SANA has launched a Hebrew-language website to reach out to Israelis, despite officially being at war with the Jewish state, the agency's director-general confirmed on Monday.

The website went live on Sunday, Ahmad Dawa told AFP, and is intended to expand the state news service's reach.

"We want to address all those who speak this language," he said.  

"Our objective is to reach the largest number of people possible and to clarify Syria's image," following more than three years of deadly conflict in the country, he added.

Dawa said the agency hoped to reach Israelis - both Arab and Jewish - "in a way that reflects the truth."  

"We want to diffuse impartial information... on the attacks and violations committed against the Palestinian and Syrian people."

In tandem with the new Hebrew site, SANA also launched a page in Farsi, the language of its key ally Iran.

Dawa said it was the first time the agency's news had been made available in either language and that the Hebrew and Farsi departments each employed six people.

SANA already has seven language services: Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Turkish, Russian and Chinese, while state television also offers a daily news bulletin in several languages.

In 2002, state television briefly experimented with Hebrew bulletins but ended them because of a shortage of Hebrew speakers in the country, where the language is not taught at universities.

Mohamed Khodr Omar, a member of SANA's new Hebrew department, told AFP that he and most of his colleagues had learned the language in the army under a program in operation from 1978 to 1990.

The move to expand the number of languages the state-run news service operates in is likely part of an attempt by the regime of Bashar al-Assad to convince larger audiences that its brutal actions during the country's ongoing civil war are part of a "war against terrorism" - particularly as international attention is currently focused on the Islamic State terror group, and away from ongoing war crimes by the Syrian government.

Indeed, the site is often dominated by news about Assad, and stories proclaiming the government's advances in what it terms a battle against "terrorists".