Correspondent / behind the news

Tag - Syria

Entries feed

Feb 9 2016

Waiting for the gate to open

February 6, 2016. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

February 6, 2016. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

(AFP/Bulent Kilic)



"It’s just crazy that this is still happening. Five years and it’s still happening. Five years that you have this war in Syria. And today you again have thousands of people massed on the border with Turkey," writes AFP's Istanbul-based photographer Bulent Kilic.

"These people, they know how to run. They’ve been running for the past five years and now it’s time to run again. So they’ve picked up and they’ve run. And now they’re just waiting for the gate to open.

"And you can’t imagine the conditions these people are living in right now.... there are children everywhere. Every family has two to three children. The whole place is full of children.... It’s heartbreaking to see kids in these conditions."

Continue reading

Dec 30 2015

The 15 most-read stories in 2015

© AFP - 2015
© AFP - 2015

(AFP)


These were the 15 most-read stories in 2015 on our AFP Correspondent blog. We wish all our readers a happy New Year.


Continue reading

Oct 19 2015

Great weather for bombing

A saleswoman wipes a TV screen in a shop in Moscow in 2014 during a broadcast of President Vladimir Putin's televised address to the nation. (AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

A saleswoman wipes a TV screen in a shop in Moscow in 2014 during a broadcast of President Vladimir Putin's televised address to the nation. (AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

(AFP / Alexander Nemenov)



Up until a few weeks ago, most Russians didn't know much about Syria, where a civil war has raged for four years. The conflict in Ukraine has dominated the state-controlled airwaves. But a few weeks ago, the Kremlin launched a bombing campaign in its Soviet-era ally Syria. And then Moscow's mighty propaganda machine swung into action.

Continue reading

Sep 18 2015

Working in a town turned into a cemetery

A man carries a young girl who was injured in a reported barrel-bomb attack by government forces on June 3, 2014 in Kallaseh district in the northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)
A man carries a young girl who was injured in a reported barrel-bomb attack by government forces on June 3, 2014 in Kallaseh district in the northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)

(AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)


"In Aleppo, almost every public garden has turned into a cemetery", writes freelance photographer Baraa Al-Halabi, who was recently awarded a Fipcom prize for this image. "There are no more restaurants, no more leisurely distractions, no more happiness. Several times a day, you hear Bashar al-Assad's army planes passing overhead. You are never safe. Each moment of each day, when you walk in the street, when you're at home or at the mosque, you risk death. You can face a barrel bomb at any minute. One day I was sitting and talking with someone, and the next day I learned that he was dead."


Continue reading

Sep 9 2015

A journey to the unknown on the Balkan migrant route (2)

Alia and her baby wait at a makeshift registration office in Munich, on Sept. 3, 2015 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)
Alia and her baby wait at a makeshift registration office in Munich, on Sept. 3, 2015 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)


"Since the beginning of 2015, more than 350,000 people fleeing war and misery have reached Europe in risky, sometimes deadly journeys on inflatable boats", writes AFP reporter Serene Assir. "They set sail from Turkey's shores for Greece and from chaos-ridden Libya for Italy. Most are Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, desperate to restart their lives in safety".

"But they face a journey plagued with obstacles, smugglers and hustlers, long waits in the sun and short nights in the cold before they get there. They also face many fears and exorbitant costs, which they cover with money borrowed from family or from having sold their homes."

"After covering the refugees' ordeal on the Greek islands, AFP has sent a team of three journalists on the Balkan migrant route to follow the continuation of their journey to an all too uncertain future."

"This is a diary with notes from the trip from Greece through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. Our plan is to reach Germany with the migrants."

(This chapter starts on the 4th day of our journey, at the Serbia-Hungary border. Scroll down to find the previous chapter, from Greece to Belgrade)


Continue reading

Sep 4 2015

A starting point for refugees' dreams... and nightmares

A woman carries her baby as she boards a dinghy to reach the Greek Island of Kos from Turkish side Bodrum early on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)
A woman carries her baby as she boards a dinghy to reach the Greek Island of Kos from Turkish side Bodrum early on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


"Usually in summer, Bodrum is known as a glitzy destination for Turkish celebrities and moneyed Istanbulites, its upmarket nightclubs and golden sands earning it the moniker of the Turkish Saint Tropez", writes AFP reporter Fulya Özerkan. "But this year, with the summer holiday season in full swing, the Bodrum peninsular has become a launch point for refugees making the open boat journey from Turkey to the EU and the Greek island of Kos, tantalisingly visible to the south".

"Some will make it to Greece to have a chance of forging a new life in the European Union. But, for others, the shiny resort will turn into a trap they cannot leave".

"And several won't make it out alive".


Continue reading

A journey to the unknown on the Balkan migrant route (1)

Syrian refugees and migrants along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos on September 1, 2015 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)
Syrian refugees and migrants along a railway line as they try to cross from Serbia into Hungary near Horgos on September 1, 2015 (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)


"Since the beginning of 2015, more than 350,000 people fleeing war and misery have reached Europe in risky, sometimes deadly journeys on inflatable boats", writes AFP reporter Serene Assir. "They set sail from Turkey's shores for Greece and from chaos-ridden Libya for Italy. Most are Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, desperate to restart their lives in safety".

"But they face a journey plagued with obstacles, smugglers and hustlers, long waits in the sun and short nights in the cold before they get there. They also face many fears and exorbitant costs, which they cover with money borrowed from family or from having sold their homes."

"After covering the refugees' ordeal on the Greek islands, AFP has sent a team of three journalists on the Balkan migrant route to follow the continuation of their journey to an all too uncertain future."

"This is a diary with notes from the trip from Greece through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. Our plan is to reach Germany with the migrants."


Continue reading

Aug 28 2015

‘ The lucky ones ’

Migrants check their mobile phones on a beach after reaching the Greek island of Kos on August 12, 2015 (AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)
Migrants check their mobile phones on a beach after reaching the Greek island of Kos on August 12, 2015 (AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)

(AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)


"It’s 4:00 am, stars fill the velvet night sky and the Aegean Sea is perfectly still", writes AFP reporter Serene Assir. "A few journalists gather at the beach in Greece’s resort island Kos, waiting in silence on an unlikely frontline of Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II. Today, like every other day, scores of refugees and migrants fleeing war and misery will reach the shore on inflatable boats, dreaming of a better life in Europe."

“Greece? Turkey? Where am I?” pants a man in his forties as he clambers out of the dinghy, tearing off his bright orange life vest. “You’re in Greece,” I reply. Overcome with emotion, he kneels down on the sand to pray, grateful that he has made it to Europe alive."


Continue reading

Jun 26 2015

European hostages: mining the data

Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH) Members of French army special force take part in a mock hostage release exercise, on April 15, 2015 on a beach in Arcachon, southwestern France, as part of the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS). (AFP PHOTO / MEHDI FEDOUACH)

(AFP Photo / Mehdi Fedouach)


"How many times have I heard this refrain since joining AFP nearly 20 years ago: ‘With millions of stories in our archives, we’re sitting on top of an information gold mine’," writes the journalist Marlowe Hood. "The European Hostage Project is a serious attempt to extract some of that buried treasure. A case study in data journalism, it uncovered patterns in the terrible traffic in hostages from Europe that up to now remained elusive if not invisible."

Continue reading

Hostages for sale in Syria

A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI) A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI)

(AFP Photo / Giovanni Diffidenti)

"Pierre Piccinin da Prata describes himself as a historian and political scientist, but his work is more like a war reporter’s," writes Robin Braquet. "The Belgian researcher has travelled to Syria more than a dozen times. On one occasion, he almost didn’t make it home. In 2013, he was betrayed by a faction of the rebel Free Syrian Army and handed over to a group of hostage-takers."

"The FSA are portrayed in the West as Syria’s moderate rebels, opposed to both President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State group. Yet some of the group’s members are now known to have sold hostages to the jihadists, enticed by the high price offered for a captive Westerner."

Continue reading

Jun 15 2015

Fleeing through the eye of a needle

Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC) Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


"We have been on the Turkey-Syria border for a week now, within sight of Tal Abyad where Kurdish forces are battling Islamic State jihadists for control," writes AFP's Bulent Kilic. "On Sunday, June 14, thousands of people fleeing the fighting suddenly appeared from behind the hill and swarmed down towards the border fence. Everything happened in five minutes. It was like a Hollywood film."

"I have been photographing this refugee crisis for nearly four years now, but yesterday was different. Almost every woman had children with her. I have never seen anything like it."

Continue reading

Jun 12 2015

Flight 847, into the hell of Beirut

One of two heavily-armed Lebanese Shiite militants, his face hidden with a bag, who hijacked a TWA passenger Boeing 727 aircraft, looks out from the door of the jetliner on June 20, 1985 at Beirut airport (AFP PHOTO/JOEL ROBINE) One of two heavily-armed Lebanese Shiite militants, his face hidden with a bag, who hijacked a TWA passenger Boeing 727 aircraft, looks out from the door of the jetliner on June 20, 1985 at Beirut airport (AFP PHOTO/JOEL ROBINE)

(AFP Photo / Joel Robine)


"On Friday June 14, 1985, Flight 847 of the US carrier TWA was travelling between Athens and Rome with eight crew and 145 passengers on board when it was diverted towards Beirut airport, opening one of the longest hijacking crises in aviation history," writes AFP's Patrick Rahir.

"Three days earlier I had watched three hijackers blow up a Boeing at Beirut airport. A day later a young Palestinian threatened to set off a hand grenade on a flight from Beirut to Cyprus. At first I thought it was a joke. Another hijacking, this time of an American plane?"

Continue reading

May 27 2015

On tour with Hezbollah

A Hezbollah fighter monitors an area as he stands on a hill in the Lebanese side of the Qalamun mountains on the border with Syria on May 20, 2015 ( AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID) A Hezbollah fighter monitors an area as he stands on a hill in the Lebanese side of the Qalamun mountains on the border with Syria on May 20, 2015 ( AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID)

(AFP / Joseph Eid)


"The Hezbollah fighter grimaced as a bank of photographers kneeled in front of him, struggling to take pictures that complied with the group's strict media rules but would still have news value," writes Sara Hussein. "The interaction was part of an unusual media tour organised by the powerful Lebanese Shiite group of their positions in the Qalamun region on the porous Syria-Lebanon border."

Continue reading

Mar 27 2015

Coming home to Kobane

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) 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)

(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."

Continue reading

Mar 16 2015

The day everything bright turned black

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

(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."

Continue reading

Mar 12 2015

Lost in a metal shell

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) 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)

(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."

Continue reading

Mar 6 2015

Hipstamatic in the high seas

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) 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)

(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."

Continue reading

Feb 12 2015

Bulent Kilic, from Taksim to Kobane

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) 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)

(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.

Continue reading

Feb 6 2015

My people, under the bombs

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) 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)

(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."

Continue reading

Jan 28 2015

Inside Kobane

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) 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)

(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."

Continue reading

- page 1 of 2