DAMASCUS, SYRIA — Just outside Damascus, foreign reporters on a press tour gathered around a handful of generals from not just the Syrian Arab Army, but the Russian military, too.

The infamous Syrian-Russian special alliance on full display for the cameras was a bizarre scene to witness. But it’s nearly impossible for international journalists to get access to the part of Syria controlled by President Bashar al-Assad. The only way in is through a regime-sanctioned press tour orchestrated by Russian Ministry of Information — and reporters are agreeing to them in order to see what’s happening in the country.

And it’s also a window into Russian propaganda on Syria.

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