Nearly three years to the day since the Syrian civil war began, President Bashar Assad’s government announced the formation of a space agency, raising consternation and heckles on social media.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the cabinet approved the creation of the “Syrian Space Agency” on Tuesday.

Reuters reported that SANA did not provide details on what the agency would do exactly, but said it was “of a scientific research nature.”

Criticism was quick to come through both mainstream and social media, as the formation of the space agency was announced just three days after the three-year anniversary of the start of the hostilities in which some 140,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have fled to neighboring countries.

Lebanese and Syrian activists light candles for children in Syria during a vigil to mark the third anniversary of Syria's uprising, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The Syrian conflict, now entering its fourth year, has killed more than 140,000 people, sent more than 2.5 million fleeing for neighboring countries and destroyed entire city blocks in opposition-held areas of the country. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Lebanese and Syrian activists light candles for children in Syria during a vigil to mark the third anniversary of Syria’s uprising, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The Syrian conflict, now entering its fourth year, has killed more than 140,000 people, sent more than 2.5 million fleeing for neighboring countries and destroyed entire city blocks in opposition-held areas of the country. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

“After three years of brutal violence in Syria, many have expected the regime to take a ‘time out’ from the civil war to focus on the country’s more pressing needs,” the Middle East news site Al Arabiya wrote, adding that the “move has shocked many and yet again thrown into question the government’s priorities.”

More jeers were posted on Twitter:

This totally makes sense. When in war, build a space station!? http://t.co/pcp5LsxAms is this diversional therapy? #Syria
As Civil War Rages, ‘Out of Touch’ Syria Makes Unusual Announcement
@DanielleHoney
Danielle Honey
Meanwhile, in out of-touch-Damascus...As war rages, #Syria sets up a #space agency http://t.co/v3JvnEBLFq srsly?!
As Civil War Rages, ‘Out of Touch’ Syria Makes Unusual Announcement
@Brigitte_khair
Brigitte K. Mountain
The Syrian government has set up a space agency. Seriously. It is called the Syrian Space Agency. http://t.co/qEOKaBhzRf
As Civil War Rages, ‘Out of Touch’ Syria Makes Unusual Announcement
@LizSly
Liz Sly
@ "I just shoot them up, I don't know where they come down," says the Syrian equivalent of Dr. Wernher von Braun.
As Civil War Rages, ‘Out of Touch’ Syria Makes Unusual Announcement
@billmon1
billmon

The last tweet referred to the German rocket engineer under Nazism.

Al Arabiya asked where the money would materialize to cover the new space research plan considering the heavy economic toll of the civil war as well as western sanctions against the Assad government.