State Department on Wednesday denounced Syrian President Bashar Assad's newly created account on the popular photo-sharing service Instagram, calling the attempt at improving his image "nothing more than a despicable PR stunt."

The photos posted under the username "syrianpresidency" show a smiling Assad among supporters, or visiting wounded Syrians in the hospital. His wife, Asma, who has stayed largely out of sight throughout the conflict, features heavily in the photos, casually dressed and surrounded by Syrian children and their mothers.