Racy Russian soldiers' calendar of Syrian women sparks anger
A "vomit-inducing" calendar has emerged, replete with Syrian women thanking Russian soldiers with sexually suggestive comments for their role in the ongoing bloody Syrian civil war.
The 2017 calendar "From Syria With Love", which features 12 Syrian women dressed in traditional Russian clothes, was released last week to an avalanche of online criticism.
"I got scared that we will never see each other again," reads the caption for Miss March, Sara Saker.
"I already knew how I would spend that summer," said Miss June, Lujayn Mhana, apparently from the pro-regime stronghold of Latakia.
Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has changed the fate of the war in Syria in favour of the regime after it started a bombing campaign last year, helping the Syrian army make major gains on the ground.
Anger has long been brewing over Russia's role in the war, which figures in September said had cost more than 10,000 Syrian lives. On Monday, the Russian ambassador to Ankara was assassinated in the Turkish capital by an off-duty police officer, purportedly in reprisal for Russia's bombing campaign in Aleppo.
|"I got scared that we would never see each other again" [Twitter]
The organisation responsible for the calendar, Citizens, has described itself as a "Moscow-based non-commercial group".
The Syrian calendar project was funded by a grant from the Russian presidency through the Russian Union of Youth, according to promotional material.
Citizens has been accused in the past of creating pro-Kremlin propaganda videos of "fake Russian students" supporting the conflict in Ukraine.
One of the Syrian models in the calendar told Russian media she had not agreed to the suggestive caption added next to her image.
"We thought there would only be pictures, but we were shocked when we saw the calendar on the internet with these silly phrases," said Miss October, Yara Hassan.
The calendar has been slammed in online discussions with many social media users deeming it "cringe-worthy" and "repulsive".
"Btw here is a bag. Oh and put your head outside of the window, I just washed the car," said one Reddit user.