In recent months, however, Assad has become an icon also for the far right, whose leaders and spokesman have heaped praise on the ferocity with which he has prosecuted the war, his role in fighting the Islamic State and his perceived stance against Muslims and Jews.
That Assad’s harsh methods have resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties seems only to have enhanced his stature. In a video posted on Twitter, three men who participated in the Charlottesville protests hailed Assad’s use of barrel bombs to subdue communities that turned against him. One is wearing a T-shirt that says: “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.”
Barrel bombs are crude, cheaply made explosive devices that are tipped out of aircraft without any form of targeting, and their use has killed thousands of civilians in Syria. In the streamed live video, the men defend Assad.