Correspondent / behind the news

Tag - Syria

Entries feed - Comments feed

Cafes and snipers, from Beirut to Aleppo

Friday 5 December 2014 - Behind the image


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)

(AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)


Cafes and snipers, from Beirut to Aleppo


"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."

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...

James Foley: focus on humanity amid suffering

Wednesday 20 August 2014 - Behind the image

James Foley in Aleppo, November 5, 2012. (AFP Photo/Nicole Tung)

James Foley: focus on humanity amid suffering


Colleagues remember the American reporter James Foley, a beloved companion who was executed by jihadist militants. (AFP Photo/Nicole Tung)

Continue reading...

The priest with a huge heart

Wednesday 9 April 2014 - Eye witness

Father Frans van der Lugt posing at the monastery of the Jesuit Fathers where he lived in the besieged area of Homs in Syria. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abu Hamza)

Beirut-based AFP journalist Karim Abou Merhi reflects on the life and death of Father Frans van der Lugt, the Dutch priest who was murdered in Homs this week. Abou Merhi had interviewed the peace activist via Skype in February and was struck by his unshakable desire to help the Syrian people, and the hope he continued to express despite enduring hardship

Continue reading...

A moment of peace in Syria's devastating conflict

Tuesday 18 February 2014 - Behind the image

A rebel (left) walks past members of the pro-regime Syrian National Defence Forces in Babbila on February 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Louai Beshara)

It’s an incredible scene: Syrian pro-regime forces mingling amicably with rebel fighters in a southern Damascus suburb.

The powerful images of one of the ceasefires around the nation’s capital were captured by AFP photographer Louai Beshara and reported on by journalist Rim Haddad from the agency’s Damascus bureau. Here, Haddad tells the story behind the truce, a rare bright spot in a devastating conflict that has lasted almost three years and claimed more than 140,000 lives.

Continue reading...

Interviewing Bashar al-Assad

Thursday 23 January 2014 - Behind the image


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his interview.  (AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

"We’d been trying for two years to interview Syrian President Bashar al-Assad without any luck. It’s not easy for the media to reach the president of a country in a full-blown civil war whom Western powers and opponents have accused of war crimes.

Then, suddenly, on Tuesday, January 14, one of the president’s staff calls me at my bureau in Beirut. He asks me to come to Damascus the next day to meet up with the head of the president’s media and communication office..."

AFP's Beirut bureau chief Sammy Ketz describes his rare interview with Assad in Damascus, ahead of the ongoing peace talks in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

Continue reading...

Syria online: using the Internet to cover a war

Monday 16 December 2013 - Eye witness

After a mortar attack in Aleppo, November 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / Mahmud al-Halabi)

With kidnappings and targeted killings a tragic reality, it has become almost impossible for journalists to work on their own in Syria. So instead of writing dispatches from the ground, reporters are looking for alternatives. Serene Assir, an AFP correspondent in Beirut, describes how the Internet plays a key role in covering this conflict that is all but off-limits for non-local journalists.

Continue reading...

Syrian refugees go hungry in Istanbul park

Tuesday 5 November 2013 - Behind the image

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Syrian refugees go hungry in Istanbul park


More than 600,000 Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring Turkey since conflict broke out in their country in March 2011. About a third of them are crowded into about 20 camps near the border, with the remainder spread across Turkey. In recent months, more and more of them have been seen in Istanbul. AFP photographer Bulent Kilic saw the increasing desperation of some of these people in an Istanbul park.

Continue reading...

Death of the 'Brave One'

Monday 30 September 2013 - Eye witness

The photographer Murhaf al-Modahi, who used the alias Abu Shuja. (AFP Photo)

Photographer Murhaf al-Modahi, who used the alias Abu Shuja and contributed to AFP, was killed in a rocket attack on September 28 in his hometown of Deir Ezzor, in the east of Syria. He was 26. Patrick Baz, the agency's photo head for the Middle East and North Africa region pays tribute.

Continue reading...

In Damascus, fear has many faces

Wednesday 25 September 2013 - Eye witness

In Old Damascus, September 21, 2013. (AFP Photo / Anwar Amro)

“In Damascus, fear has many faces,” writes Rana Moussaoui, a Beirut-based correspondent for AFP. “Security agents -- and regular residents -- regularly stopped to ask us what we were doing, demanding to see our filming permits or, more troublingly, asking us what people had told us”. (AFP Photo)

Continue reading...

Lavrov steals some limelight from Kerry

Sunday 15 September 2013 - Eye witness

Detail of cartoon portrait of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov done by  Fox News television correspondent James Rosen.

"For almost two hours we'd been waiting for US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to reveal whether they had a deal on Syria's chemical weapons," reports AFP's Jo Biddle. "And then in one extraordinary moment, Lavrov slipped unannounced into the back of a ballroom in a Geneva hotel where the world's press was camped out Saturday and stole a bit of thunder from his 'good friend' Kerry."

Continue reading...

Syria’s bloodied citadel, from Crusades to civil war

Wednesday 24 July 2013 - Eye witness

In the Krak des Chevaliers, June 2012. AFP PHOTO

At the end of June 2012, AFP journalist Djilali Belaid found his way to Krak des Chevaliers, Syria’s legendary fortress from the time of the Crusades. He remains the only foreign journalist to have done so since the start of the civil war, and had several brushes with death during the assignment.

Continue reading...

Another day in Aleppo

Friday 28 June 2013 - Behind the image

Injured rebel fighters downed by sniper fire in Aleppo, Syria, wait for comrades to rescue them during during clashes with pro-government forces in the Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood.

Another day in Aleppo


AFP freelance photographer Abo al-Nur Sadk (his nom de guerre) takes cover during a firefight in Syria as a pair of rebel fighters, downed by sniper fire, wait for darkness to be rescued.

Continue reading...

- page 1 of 2