Tuesday 18 February 2014 - Behind the image
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.
Thursday 23 January 2014 - Behind the image
"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)
Monday 16 December 2013 - Eye witness
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.
Tuesday 5 November 2013 - Behind the image
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.
Monday 30 September 2013 - Eye witness
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.
Wednesday 25 September 2013 - Eye witness
“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)
Sunday 15 September 2013 - Eye witness
"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."
Wednesday 24 July 2013 - Eye witness
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.
Friday 28 June 2013 - Behind the image
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.
Wednesday 5 June 2013 - Eye witness
"I am on my knees, hands behind my head, on a border-crossing between Turkey and Syria. A Turkish border guard stoops over me menacingly, the nozzle of his Kalashnikov pressing against my upper thigh as he barks something in an unfamiliar language," writes AFP correspondent Anuj Chopra, who recently spent two weeks in Syria, where he learned the importance of having a good translator.
Thursday 2 May 2013 - Decoding
Gathering news in Syria has become a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, assignment, whether for foreign correspondents, Syrian reporters or a growing legion of 'citizen journalists' who relay what they witness via Facebook and Twitter. AFP has recently tightened its rules for fielding reports from Syria, part of an effort to avoid undue risk. (AFP Photo/HO/Youtube)
Friday 26 April 2013 - Behind the image
Syria offers grim bounty for photojournalists
As Syria’s conflict enters its third year, the country’s demolished cityscapes and bloodied population continue to provide a lamentably rich tableau for photographers. And while it may seem strange to laud images of destruction and suffering, photojournalism awards can also serve to keep important issues in the public eye.
Tuesday 16 April 2013 - Behind the image
AFP Photo/Javier Manzano
A Pulitzer picture first day on the job
“Javier Manzano took this masterpiece of a rebel sniper in Aleppo, Syria, along with three other stunning images we moved on AFP’s photo wire, on his first day working with the agency,” recalls AFP’s Deputy Photo Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hasan Mroue, who validated the photos. “Another colleague was with me when we chose them, and we both could see that this was winning material of superior artistic skill besides its news worthiness and the courage it takes to be in such a dangerous spot.”
Thursday 11 April 2013 - Behind the image
AFP Photo/Louai Beshara
Carnage in the heart of Damascus
"It was an ordinary day in Damascus: we woke up to the sound of bombs falling on not-so-distant suburb, and then dropped our kids off at school without the comforting certainty that we would see them again," reports AFP photographer Louai Bachara, based in the Syrian capital. "It has been like that for almost a year now. A few days earlier, a technician in the AFP bureau was injured when a bomb exploded near his car." Things were about to get a lot worse.
Saturday 22 December 2012 - Behind the image
AFP PHOTO/Marco Longari
Shooting beyond the violence
AFP's Marco Longari was this week named as Time magazine’s wire photographer of 2012, in recognition of what the US publication described as his "indispensable" coverage from across the Middle East. He discusses some of his compelling work from the past year that saw him in Gaza, Egypt and Syria, among other places.
Tuesday 13 November 2012 - Behind the image
AFP Photo/Javier Manzano
Fighting for Aleppo, inch-by-inch
AFP photographer Javier Manzano, embedded with Syrian rebels in the embattled city of Aleppo, describes how rebel and regime combatants travel -- sometimes for entire city blocks -- beyond the gaze of enemy snipers by burrowing their way through contiguous walls. But when those "walls", as above, are no more than corrugated tin, they offer scant protection against flying shrapnel and large caliber rounds.
Monday 12 November 2012 - Eye witness
"I met Abu Ibrahim by chance," said AFP correspondent Jennie Matthew, recalling a rebel fighter she encountered while reporting on the civil war in Syria that has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives over the last year and a half. "Four days later he was dead." Here Mathews, who is still covering the conflict on the ground, remembers the former policeman who decided that it was worth risking his life to help end the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. (AFP Photo/Philippe Desmazes)
Monday 29 October 2012 - Behind the image
AFP Photo / Javier Manzano
Deadly sprint in sniper alley
This man was crossing a street in Aleppo when, from high up in a building, a sniper with Bashar al-Assad's army shot him in the shoulder. The man's injury did not appear life-threatening, but running from the spot where he fell risked drawing more fire from the hidden shooter. If he stayed, he risked bleeding slowly to death. With the sniper looking on from his lair, it was impossible to rescue the man without attracting angry bursts of gunfire.
Friday 26 October 2012 - Eye witness
Dodging bullets, tending to the wounded, even counting the dead have become part of daily routine in Syria's second city Aleppo, where rebels are fighting the blood-stained regime of President Bashar al-Assad.Indeed, the violence seemed less remarkable to many residents than the 30-minute thunderstorm that recently swamped streets and snarled traffic on the eve of the religious festival of Eid al-Adha, reports AFP correspondent Jennie Matthew. The downpour also "exposed the limits of rebel control, and my own ingenuity," she writes (AFP Photo/Philippe Desmazes).
Monday 22 October 2012 - Behind the image
AFP Photo/Patrick Baz
Beirut bombing: déjà vu all over again
"Peace did not come easily to my hometown of Beirut, so I should not have been surprised at how quickly the bomb blast transformed a calm weekend there into a vortex of anger and chaos," reports reports Patrick Baz, the head of AFP's photo services for the Middle East and North Africa. "It also threw me back to the turmoil of my childhood in the 1980s." Patrick was only minutes away when the explosion struck Friday, killing Lebanon's top security chief, General Wissam al-Hassan, and two others. Here he describes how he and his 16-year old daughter arrived on the scene.