OFF THE AIR: Pro-Assad Lebanese news channel al-Mayadeen aired a segment Monday deriding a recent decision by the Syrian government to ban al-Mayadeen and al-Manar, Hezbollah’s official news station, from broadcasting inside Syria without receiving official permission.
“The regime is returning the [news stations’] favor with rejection and denial by publishing a decision forbidding the two channels from broadcasting directly from Syria, leading al-Mayadeen to withdraw its media crew and suspend its activities,” says the segment’s broadcaster.
Within opposition circles, the ban on the pro-regime channels is more about them promoting Iran and Hezbollah’s victories at the expense of the regime. Posts on social media report that Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban posted on Facebook that “friendly media” was out of line for trumpeting external groups’ roles in propping up the regime.
Meanwhile, al-Jazeera cited “well-informed sources” stating that the decision was primarily directed at al-Mayadeen in response to pressure from the Syrian security apparatus, which pushed to limit the channel’s activities inside the country.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi rejected the notionthat the measure was an attack on the two Lebanese networks, insisting that “the matter is purely logistical.” Zoubi expressed respect for al-Manar and al-Mayadeen as “a resistance network” and a “nationalist network,” respectively, according to London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat.
Al-Mayadeen’s segment coincided with news Monday that three al-Manar employees—a correspondent, a photographer, and a technician—had been reportedly killed by rebel sniper fire as they covered Hezbollah and the Syrian government’s takeover of the ancient Christian town of Maaloula in the Qalamoun mountain range.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi issued a statement condemning the incident, calling it “a crime adding to the takfiri terrorists’ record in Syria, who have previously attacked Syrian state news.”