Thursday 16 October 2014 - Eye witness
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)
Tuesday 7 October 2014 - Behind the image
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.
Wednesday 1 October 2014 - Decoding
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)
Wednesday 17 September 2014 - Decoding
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)
Tuesday 16 September 2014 - Behind the image
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."
Wednesday 20 August 2014 - Behind the image
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)
Wednesday 9 April 2014 - Eye witness
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
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.”