Wednesday 28 January 2015 - Behind the image
(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."
Wednesday 28 January 2015 - Eye witness
"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)
Monday 26 January 2015 - Eye witness
"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)
Sunday 28 December 2014 - Behind the image
"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)
Saturday 27 December 2014 - Behind the image
"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)
Friday 5 December 2014 - Eye witness
"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)
Wednesday 12 November 2014 - Eye witness
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)
Tuesday 11 November 2014 - Behind the image
"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)
Saturday 25 October 2014 - Behind the image
(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.
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.