As the Syrian conflict grows more complicated, the Assad regime has been pursuing a more aggressive PR and propaganda strategy -- attempting to create a narrative about what is at stake, and what values the rebels and the Assad regime each hold.
On a recent visit to Damascus, New York Times Beirut Bureau Chief Anne Barnard and photographer Andrea Bruce were invited to interview seven prisoners by the Syrian government: five Syrians, a Palestinian and an Iraqi.
"We are crazy and al Qaeda made us more crazy," one of the prisoners told the journalists. That explanation and others seemed to fit neatly into the Assad regime's story about the conflict. Not all the prisoners' confessions stuck to the official script, though.
Barnard and Bruce describe what it was like to meet these prisoners, what's behind this propaganda strategy, and what it means for this next stage of the conflict.