Correspondent / behind the news

Tag - Syria

Entries feed - Comments feed

Coming home to Kobane

Friday 27 March 2015 - Eye witness

A Kurdish Syrian woman walks with her child past the ruins of the town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL)

"I travelled to Kobane a day before Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, and stayed for a week to photograph people returning to their homes, two months after the Kurds recaptured the town from Islamic State fighters," writes the photographer Yasin Akgul. "The last time I was here, just after the Islamists were chased out, the place was strewn with burning cars and corpses. Eight percent of the town is destroyed, But two months on, there are signs of normal life beginning to resume."

(Photo: AFP / Yasin Akgul)

Continue reading...

The day everything bright turned black

Monday 16 March 2015 - Eye witness

A Yazidi Iraqi woman in the Bajid Kandala camp in Kurdistan's western Dohuk province on August 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

Threatened with rape, sexual slavery or forced marriage as the Islamic State group overran their homes last year, they fled at a moment's notice, leaving their lives behind. In early March, a dozen Yazidi and Christian women refugees in Arbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, took part in a workshop organised by the charity Chime for Change and hosted by journalists Mariane Pearl and Randa Habib. The goal was to teach them how to use narrative techniques to help share their terrible stories.

"I put my journalistic habits to one side, instead following my gut-feeling and intuition," writes Randa Habib. "This isn’t about extracting from these women good stories to print. It’s about making them feel comfortable, creating a bond that will enable them to tell me painful, private things. Simply because it will do them good."

"Their stories, when they share them at last, will stay with me for a long time."

(Photo: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Continue reading...

Lost in a metal shell

Thursday 12 March 2015 - Eye witness

A French Navy HawkEye prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle operating in the Gulf on February 26, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ)

"How do I feel about spending a week on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf? To be honest, as the prospect takes shape, I can feel myself tensing up," writes AFP's Valerie Leroux. "A week in a metal shell, nine storeys high, trekking up and down mile-long gangways and teetering ladders, to the non-stop soundtrack of Rafale fighters roaring into the air on the deck above? But to hell with claustrophobia, never mind deafening decibels, I decide to go all in and board a plane for Bahrain. I won’t regret it."

(Photo: AFP / Patrick Baz)

Continue reading...

Hipstamatic in the high seas

Friday 6 March 2015 - Eye witness

A picture taken with a Hipstamatic application shows members of the French navy aircaft carrier Charles de Gaulle's safety and security team taking a break as the ship is operating in the Gulf on February 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ)

"We board at the dock in Bahrain in late February: five days at sea to witness the deployment of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the fight against the Islamic State group – a floating town carrying 2,000 people on an eight-week mission in the Persian Gulf," writes AFP photographer Patrick Baz. "Aircraft carriers are a pretty familiar environment for me by now, having spent time on both French and US vessels during the Gulf Wars, the Afghan conflict – you name it. This time though, I got a chance to do something different."

(Photo: AFP / Patrick Baz)

Continue reading...

Bulent Kilic, from Taksim to Kobane

Thursday 12 February 2015 - Short Stuff

A young girl wounded during clashes between riot-police and prostestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during anti-government protests, in Istanbul on March 12, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

The Turkish AFP photographer Bulent Kilic clinched two awards at the prestigious World Press Photo photojournalism awards, whose top prize went to Denmark’s Mads Nissen for an image of a gay couple in Russia. Bulent Kilic took first prize in the “Spot news” category for his image of a young woman injured during clashes between police and demonstrators on Istanbul’s Taksim Square in March 2014.

(Photo: AFP/Bulent Kilic)

Continue reading...

My people, under the bombs

Friday 6 February 2015 - Eye witness

An injured Syrian girl is treated at a makeshift clinic following air strikes by regime forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, north east of the capital Damascus, on February 5, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY)

"It’s an airstrike that wakes me up, just near my house in a rebel-held part of the Damascus suburbs," writes AFP photographer Abd Doumany. "It’s 8.30 am. I think at first it’s just the one, but my hopes soon fade with the sound of another strike. And another. The bombing doesn’t stop until sunset. The government jets target everything. Apartment blocks, mosques, schools, even a hospital. I see it as my duty to document people’s suffering. I also think it hurts much more, every detail, every story, because this is my home and these are my people."

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)

Continue reading...

Inside Kobane

Wednesday 28 January 2015 - Eye witness

A Kurdish fighter walks with his child in the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

"We've been waiting for two days to get into Kobane, ever since Kurdish fighters wrested back the town from IS jihadists. Finally, this morning, the Turkish authorities say they will allow us access for a few hours," writes AFP photographer Bulent Kilic. "When this all started, I was watching Kobane from the outside. The bombing, the fighting, it was like hell. After all this, to enter the city, for the fight to be over, that is powerful for me too."

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Continue reading...

Ties that bind, after the story ends

Wednesday 28 January 2015 - Eye witness

Syrian rebels come under fire at the Krak des Chevaliers in June 2012 (AFP / DJILALI BELAID)

"If you don’t have complete faith in someone who is taking you across a dangerous border - if you have even the slightest doubt - you don’t go. That level of trust between journalist and source creates a powerful bond. And a sense of duty if they later turn to you for help," writes AFP's Djilali Belaid. "During my last mission in Syria, in June 2012, I crossed the border from north Lebanon to reach the crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, a 1,000-year-old citadel captured by rebels at the start of the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad. If you get caught, you are dead. My main contact on the trip was a young man named Ahmad. He is 24 years old."

(AFP / Djilali Belaid)

Continue reading...

I am a human kaleidoscope

Monday 26 January 2015 - Eye witness

A protester holds a placard reading in French 'l am Charlie, I am free, I am Lebanese' on January 10, 2015 at Samir Kassir Square in Beirut (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)

"On Saturday the 10th of January – on the eve of the historic unity march held in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks – two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a café in the Jabal Mohsen quarter of Tripoli, in north Lebanon," writes AFP's Rita Daou. "The attack left nine people dead and 37 wounded. Late that night, still hard at work, I received a phone call from a journalist friend. 'What? Still working?' she exclaimed. 'Go to bed my dear. No one will use your story. Tomorrow is the Paris march. No one gives a hoot about Jabal Mohsen'."

(AFP Photo / Ibrahim Chalhoub)

Continue reading...

Happy homecoming

Sunday 28 December 2014 - Behind the image

Nicolas Henin (R) is reunited with his family at the Villacoublay air base near Paris after being released from captivity in Syria, April 20, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

"This has been a tragic year for journalists," writes Kenzo Tribouillard. "But there were also moments of great joy and relief for the profession, and I was lucky enough to witness one of them. On April 20 at dawn, I headed to the Villacoublay military airport outside Paris to cover the homecoming of four French journalists, held captive in Syria for months."

(AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)

Continue reading...

Stroll through the ruins

Saturday 27 December 2014 - Behind the image

A woman pushes a pram through the rubble of destroyed buildings in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma on December 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY)

"This was a crowded market before the Syria uprising. It’s one of the worst-damaged streets in Douma, the rebel bastion in the suburbs of Damascus that has been under government siege for more than a year now," writes Abd Doumany. "People are certainly not safe to venture outside, but they have to."

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)

Continue reading...

Cafes and snipers, from Beirut to Aleppo

Friday 5 December 2014 - Eye witness

A Syrian woman in the government-held side of Aleppo in a street protected by huge canvas which residents have stretched across it to make it hard for rebels to see them. November 18, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID)

"I had imagined Aleppo to be like Berlin at the end of World War II – smoking ruins, with haggard people stumbling through a ghostly silence," writes AFP's Sammy Ketz, who travelled to the divided Syrian city at the end of November. "Instead I found myself back in Beirut during the civil war – where life and death, buzzing cafes and snipers, exist side by side."

(AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

Continue reading...

Syria's 'hospital' of horrors

Wednesday 12 November 2014 - Eye witness


An injured girl is treated at a makeshift hospital in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus, on September 24, 2014, following reported airstrikes by government forces (AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)

Douma is a Syrian rebel Bastion. A city of 200,000 just northeast of Damascus, it has been under siege for more than a year by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and has been hit practically every day by heavy artillery fire and air and ground raids.

"I head to the hospital each time an intense bombing or air raid hits Douma to document the attacks", says Abd Doumany, a freelance photographer that works for AFP. "At times when I arrive, it is as if I've entered a nightmare".

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)


Continue reading...

At the playground in Aleppo

Tuesday 11 November 2014 - Behind the image


Shuruq (R), a nine-year old Syrian girl without legs,  plays on a swing with another child in a park in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on November 3, 2014 (AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)

"I came across Shuruq by chance one day, while walking in a playground in Aleppo", writes photographer Baraa Al-Halabi. "The nine-year-old little girl was playing with her brother, two sisters and mother. Since she has no legs, her big brother was pushing her on the swing".

"Aleppo was once Syria's economic capital. The town has been ravaged by more than two years of merciless fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces. Daily bombings by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have left thousands of people dead and caused mass destruction. Shuruq's mother says she lost her legs when a bomb destroyed her home".

(AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)


Continue reading...

A black flag torn down

Saturday 25 October 2014 - Behind the image


Militants of Islamic State group are seen just before and after an explosion from an air strike on Tilsehir hill near the Turkish-Syrian border on October 23, 2014 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


A black flag torn down


Bombs launched by Western aircraft strike an Islamic State group position on the Tilsehir hill, west of the Syrian town of Kobane, on October 23, 2014. AFP video reporter Mostafa Abulezz tells the story behind these impressive images.


Continue reading...

Watching the Kobane battle from 'media hill'

Thursday 16 October 2014 - Eye witness


Smoke rises after a strike on the Syrian town of Kobane as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border on October 12, 2014 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

In the days before the conflict it was known to local gossips as the "love hill", a place where courting couples would come to chat and even flirt, away from prying eyes. But when Kobane became the focus of global attention this small bump of land by the Turkish border crossing of Mursitpinar became a magnet for the world's media. AFP reporter Fulya Ozerkan spent days there, watching the bitter fighting between the Islamic State group (IS) militants and Kurdish fighters for the Syrian town located just on the other side of the border.

(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)


Continue reading...

Black flag over Kobane

Tuesday 7 October 2014 - Behind the image


Alleged Islamic State group militants stand next to an IS flag atop a hill in the Syrian town of Kobane, as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)
AFP Photo / Aris Messinis

Black flag over Kobane


Fighters keep watch under the black flag of the Islamic State group on a hill to the east of the Syrian town of Kobane. AFP photographer Aris Messinis shot the picture early in the afternoon on Monday, October 6 from the Turkish village of Mursitpinar, just across the border. Its unusual composition and the fact that the militants' silhouettes seem out of proportion to other elements led some AFP clients to call the agency to check it was real.

It was. Here is the explanation.


Continue reading...

Editing images of ‘hell’, in close-up

Wednesday 1 October 2014 - Decoding


An editor at work at AFP's Middle East and North Africa photo desk in Nicosia (AFP Photo / Florian Choblet)

The photo and video editors in Nicosia, AFP's headquarters for the Middle East and North Africa, have to face a daily flood of unbearable images. It is their job to pore over the images from Syria, from Iraq, Gaza, Libya and other regional hotspots, and decide whether or not to publish them. It is their job to take in, for hours at a stretch each day, images of mutilated bodies, of wounded children screaming in pain, and -- more recently -- of hostages being beheaded.

Much of this ultra-violent imagery is unfit for publication under the criteria that AFP sets itself, and will end up in the bin. But not without inflicting a kind of repetitive shock to the journalists who have viewed it.

(AFP Photo / Florian Choblet)


Continue reading...

Covering the "Islamic State"

Wednesday 17 September 2014 - Decoding


An image grab taken from a video released by the Islamic State (IS) on September 2, 2014 shows a masked militant holding a knife as he speaks to the camera ibefore beheading US reporter Steven Sotloff (AFP Photo / HO / Site Intelligence Group)

Faced with the kidnap and murder of journalists in Syria, Iraq and Africa, and the flood of horrific propaganda images spewed out by the "Islamic State" group and its offshoots, it is time to reaffirm some ethical and editorial groundrules.

Our challenge is to strike a balance between our duty to inform the public, the need to keep our reporters safe, our concern for the dignity of victims being paraded by extremists, and the need to avoid being used as a vehicle for hateful, ultraviolent propaganda.

AFP's Global News Director Michèle Léridon explains what the events of recent months have changed in the work environment of a global news agency such as AFP, and how we have responded.

(AFP Photo / HO / Site Intelligence Group)


Continue reading...

War as spectator sport in the Golan Heights

Tuesday 16 September 2014 - Behind the image


Israeli civilians stand near Mount Bental, in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, as they watch through binoculars the fighting between Syrian government troops and Islamist rebel fighters on September 2, 2014 (AFP / Menahem Kahana)
AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana

War as spectator sport in the Golan Heights


"It is before dawn on the Golan Heights and a squad of Syrian government troops are engaged in fierce combat with rebels of the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front", writes AFP Jerusalem-based photographer Menahem Kahana. "The clashes are taking place just metres from the barbed wire fence that separates the Syrian side of the strategic plateau from the Israeli-held sector. I am watching from an abandoned Israeli army bunker, around 100 metres from the demarcation line. This is war, taking place right before my eyes, and yet it could almost be another world. I am not a target, and none of the fighters cares remotely what is happening on the Israeli side."

"I have the strangest sense of being in a movie theatre."


Continue reading...

- page 1 of 3