Syria's Assad on Instagram offensive

BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's office has used a new Instagram account to post photographs of him greeting supporters, and images of his wife Asma visiting hospital patients.

The official Syrian presidency Instagram account on the popular online photo sharing application is the latest social media platform used by Assad's office to bolster his image.

Assad's office already has YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Images posted on Instagram include a photograph of Assad working at his desk, and another of the embattled leader waving at cheering crowds of supporters.

Others show his wife Asma, dressed informally and deep in discussion with teenagers. In another, she wipes away the tears of a child.

Scores of Assad's supporters have 'liked' the photographs, and one of the comments on a picture reads: "We love you."

But negative comments were apparently removed, as a new requirement for users to sign in to be able to leave a comment was introduced.

One online anti-regime activist said via Twitter: "Bashar Assad blocked me on Instagram."

More than two years into an uprising against his regime, Assad has refused to cede power.

The revolt that erupted in March 2011 morphed into a bloody insurgency after the army cracked down on dissent.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, the United Nations says.