Oh dear, Kim! Kardashian wades into Syrian civil war by tweeting support for embattled ethnic Armenian town... but is accused of inadvertently supporting Assad | Mail Online

By James Nye

PUBLISHED: 12:30 EST, 1 April 2014 | UPDATED: 17:03 EST, 1 April 2014

Kim Kardashian has waded into the controversial and ethically murky Syrian civil war - issuing a call to her 20 million followers on Twitter to save the ancient Armenian Christian village of Kessab, which was taken over by rebels last month.

However, despite her well-intentioned tweet, the reality television star has been criticized for using the hashtag #SaveKessab - which some have accused of being part of a stealth social media campaign backing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The hashtag has been linked with false claims made by loyalists to Assad, who have said that Syrian rebels desecrated the village's churches and slaughtered its residents.

Political statement: Kim Kardashian has tweeted her support for the embattled Christian Armenians of Kessab in Syria - causing some controversy

Indeed, horrifying images linked to Save Kessab that show a young girl mutilated with a crucifix and a decapitated little girl have been comprehensively debunked - with critics branding them pro-Assad propaganda.

'If you don't know what's going on in Kessab please google it ... As an Armenian, I grew up hearing so many painful stories,' Kim wrote in a March 30 tweet.


'Please let's not let history repeat itself!!!!!! Let's get this trending!!!! #SaveKessa #ArmenianGenocide,' she wrote.

In doing so, Kim, whose father was of Armenian descent, underscored how Syria's war, more than any other in history, has been waged on social media, with both supporters of President Bashar Assad and those opposing his rule using selectively chosen videos and photos, sometimes faked, recycled or altered, to support their grievances.

Concern: Kim tweeted this on Sunday March 30 - as she sought to draw attention to the danger facing Armenians in Kessab and the horror of the genocide inflicted on her compatriots in the early part of the 20th century

History: Kim Kardashian has waded into Syria's conflict, calling on fans through Twitter to save the ancient Armenian Christian village of Kassab, whose residents fled as rebels seized control of the hamlet in late March

Plea: Kardashian's publicist Ina Treciokas said Kardashian was "just voicing her support for Armenians" and said she had no additional comment

However, it is obvious that Kim's support for the campaign to save civilians caught up in the brutal fighting in Kessab is far more personal than simple altruism.

Kim is Armenian and April is the month during which her compatriots remember the genocide of an estimate 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War 1 and its aftermath.

The event is widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

The Kardashian family are originally from Karakale, a village in East Turkey, close to the Armenian border and populated by ethnic Armenians.

Her great-great grandparents on her father's side are Sam and Harom Kardaschoff - the Russian spelling of the Armenian name, Kardashian.

They fled along with her great-grandfather during the 'Medz Yeghern' or Great Crime - which was the genocide and expulsion of Armenians from what is now modern-day Turkey.

The family made it Los Angeles and Robert Kardashian, Kim's father, was a high-profile lawyer who helped O.J. Simpson's not-guilty verdict in the 1990s.

'I was raised with a huge Armenian influence, always hearing stories of Armenia, celebrating Armenian holidays,' said Kim in the past.

'My father taught us to never forget where we came from.'

Father and daughter: Kim Kardashian and her father Robert, whose family are Armenian by descent and who famously helped defend O.J. Simpson against murder charges in the 1990s

Kim's use of the two hashtags side-by-side, '#SaveKessab' and '#ArmenianGenocide' suggested she was linking the flight of most of Kassab's 2,000 residents and those killed by Turkish forces.

Kim's tweets are not the first time she has been criticized for political errors.

In April 2011, she featured on the cover of Turkish Cosmopolitan - which was controversial when considering the relationship between Armenia and Turkey.

Kim was prompted into her tweet by events last week when Syrian rebels moved into the northwestern coastal province of Latakia, which is where the Assad family is from.

The rebels allegedly include fighters from  Jabhat al-Nusra - the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda.

Critical: Kim has come under pressure to distance herself from #SaveKessab hashtag which some say supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

Anger: Some took to Twitter to chastise Kim for trying to tweet support for civilians in Kessab

Correction: Others tried to not so subtly point out that the images linked to #SaveKessab are fake

Since then, hundreds of Armenian Christians have fled and Kessab has been overrun by rebels.

The complicated political situation in Syria's three-year civil war sees the nation's ethnic Armenian population having to back the Assad regime.

They see him as their only safety net against radical Islamists who are a large part of Syria's opposition.

However, this has not carried much favor with the very influential Armenian diaspora, especially in the United States - of which the Kardashian family are prominent members.

Kim's public backing for Save Kessab has been endorsed by the Syrian National Coalition, one of the main opposition groups.

'We are glad Kim Kardashian is taking an interest in this issue, as we too are concerned about extremist groups’ persecution of minorities,' Khalid Saleh, a spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition, told The Daily Beast.

Battle: Syrian army's artillery seen firing at rebel positions from the town of al-Mishrfeh, some four km from the rebel-held Kassab town in the northern countryside of the coastal city of Latakia, on 27 March 2014

Fight: Syrian soldiers seen in a position in al-Mishrfeh town, some four km from the rebel-held Kassab town in the northern countryside of the coastal city of Latakia, Syria, on 27 March 2014

'The Free Syrian Army has put out a statement committed to protecting of citizens of Armenian descent and to maintaining the integrity of their religious sites and protecting them from the Assad's attacks and use of indiscriminate fire, which continue against innocent people.'

However, some are plain furious with Kim for using drawing attention to such a controversial issue to her 20 million followers.

Kardashian's publicist Ina Treciokas said Kardashian was 'just voicing her support for Armenians' and said she had no additional comment.

Her Kessab tweets were followed by a flurry of sultry selfies of her riding on a boat in a skimpy top and long skirt with hashtags like #WishYouWereHere and #WhatALife. She has been posting from Thailand in recent days, including one that shows her sitting at the entry of a temple featuring the Buddha.

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