Asked to comment on the shutdown, which users reported over the weekend, a YouTube spokesperson provided Sputnik with the following statement: "YouTube complies with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws – including with respect to content created and uploaded by restricted entities. If we find that an account violates our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines, we disable it."
Earlier, the TomoNews US outlet claimed that the Syrian government-affiliated accounts may have been shut down for generating ad revenue, which if true would be a violation of US sanctions against Damascus. Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2011 prohibiting US entities from "engaging in business" with any "Syrian state-owned" entity.
The four government-affiliated channels and their hundreds of videos' worth of content have been deleted, replaced with the message: "This account has been terminated for a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service." As for PresidencyCy, the channel of the Syrian presidency, the deleted channel displays the message: "This account has been terminated due to a legal complaint."
YouTube's decision prompted scorn among some social media users, who said that the deleted channels, including that of the Syrian Arab News Agency and the Syrian Defense Ministry, provided them with an alternative perspective on the Syrian conflict to that put forth by Western governments and media.
YouTube, which is controlled by Google/Alphabet, censored Syrian state channels on Saturday, including Sama TV, Sana news agency, Syrian Ministry of Defence and the Syrian Presidency ahead of its battle to re-take Iblib, which is currenty in the hands of Saudi-US-UK backed forces— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) 10 сентября 2018 г.
On 09/08/18, #YouTube shoots down Syrian national channels, here Syrian Arab News Agency (#SANA). But On the Ground News (#OGN), work of #BilalAbdulKareem, jihad propagandist and #US citizen in #Idlib, is still online. Western support of #alQaeda in #Syria has never been so clear pic.twitter.com/jaQVs5jJjc— Olrik (@Olrik75011) 9 сентября 2018 г.
On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that Paris was prepared to "react firmly together with its allies" if the Syrian military used chemical weapons in the militant-held province of Idlib. Earlier, the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation presented intelligence indicating that an al-Qaeda*-affiliated terrorist group working with the White Helmets was planning to use chemical weapons, film the incident and blame Damascus for the crime. Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons called on the organization to not allow for any "provocations" involving the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian province. Western governments have repeatedly warned Damascus not to launch an operation to liberate Idlib, the last major stronghold of Syria's armed opposition, including numerous Islamist militant factions.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.