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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."

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Feb 1 2016

What if this baby were mine?

A man stands next to the body of a migrant child washed up on a beach in Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016 (AFP / Ozan Kose)
A man stands next to the body of a migrant child washed up on a beach in Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016 (AFP / Ozan Kose)

(AFP / Ozan Kose)


"The baby is the first dead body I see when I get to the beach. He looks like he is nine or ten months old. He is dressed warmly and was wearing a hat. An orange pacifier is attached to his clothes," writes AFP's Istanbul-based photographer Ozan Kose, who took pictures of a Turkish beach the morning after a boat overloaded with refugees seeking a better life in Europe sank off shore.

"For the moment, noone is taking care of the dead baby. I return to him and stay there, for about an hour, silent. I have a baby boy who is five months and a daughter who is eight years old. I ask myself what I would do if this were my baby."


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Jan 18 2016

The numbing predictability of the Istanbul tragedy

Istanbul's Blue Mosque two days after the attacks. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Istanbul's Blue Mosque two days after the attacks. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

(AFP/Ozan Kose)



"It’s conventional after attacks to express surprise and shock," writes Stuart Williams, AFP's Istanbul-based deputy bureau chief in Turkey.

"But when a suicide bomber ripped through a group of German tourists on a morning last week in central Istanbul the shock was genuine, but no-one could feign surprise. This was the attack that everyone had feared."

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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.


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Dec 3 2015

Turkey and Russia: still uneasy after all these years

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia's Vladimir Putin (R) in July, 2012. (AFP/Pool/Sergei Karpukhin)

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia's Vladimir Putin (R) in July, 2012. (AFP/Pool/Sergei Karpukhin)

(AFP/Pool/Sergei Karpukhin)



The current spat between Moscow and Ankara over the shooting down of a Russian plane is just the latest manifestation of the uneasy relationship between two former empires, which have spent much of the last half millenium at war, writes AFP's Istanbul deputy bureau chief Stuart Williams.

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Nov 23 2015

Turkey divided after a summer of blood

Nighttime Istanbul, October, 2013. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

Nighttime Istanbul, October, 2013. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

(AFP/Bulent Kilic)



Months of blasts, explosions and clashes that have shaken Turkey since June have left the country scarred and divided, writes Ankara-based correspondent Fulya Ozerkan. 

"In 2008, Turkey's renowned filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan dedicated his award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival to "my beautiful and lonely country, which I love passionately". But I now fear for the future of my beautiful and lonely country, which remains alarmingly uncertain despite all the government's proclamations."


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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".


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Jun 26 2015

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."

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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."

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Jun 5 2015

A tale of two strongmen

A combination shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Ergodan (AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / ALEXEI DRUZHININ / KAYHAN OZER) A combination shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Ergodan (AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / ALEXEI DRUZHININ / KAYHAN OZER)

(AFP Photo / Ria Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin & AFP Photo / Presidential Press Office / Kayhan Ozer)


"I arrived in Turkey just under a year ago expecting something very different from what I experienced during five years in Putin’s Russia," writes AFP's Stuart Williams. "The differences between Turkey’s genuinely democratic and Russia’s more authoritarian political systems are very real. But the more time I spend in Turkey, the more I am struck by the growing similarities between Turkey and Russia in the early part of the 21st century, parallels that are fascinating but also very troubling. They have become all the more telling in the run up to June 7 parliamentary elections."

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Apr 10 2015

Seeking the soul of Istanbul on the Bosphorus

A ferry leaves the Kadikoy landing as a captain walks on the roof on May 3, 2014, in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC) A ferry leaves the Kadikoy landing as a captain walks on the roof on May 3, 2014, in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo /Bulent Kilic)


"It’s commonplace among Istanbul residents to complain about the pace of change in the city," writes AFP journalist Stuart Williams. "Too much unchecked construction, too much traffic, too many new infrastructure projects, people say. Yet everyone still knows a place that for them is the soul of the city. For me, the easiest way to feel the soul of Istanbul is on the water. On one of the commuter ferries that ply their way on the Bosphorus."

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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."

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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.

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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."

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Jan 1 2015

Beauty out of chaos

(c) AFP - 2015 (c) AFP - 2015

(AFP)


PARIS, January 1, 2015 -To send off a year marked by wars, massacres, epidemics and countless tragedies, every day from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve, AFP's photographers told the story behind eight images of beauty or hope, taken in times of war, crisis or upheaval. Here is the complete photo series:

Happy New Year to all!


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Dec 31 2014

Back among the living

A miner is reunited with his father after an explosion on May 13, 2014 in Soma, western Turkey (AFP PHOTO /BULENT KILIC) A miner is reunited with his father after an explosion on May 13, 2014 in Soma, western Turkey (AFP PHOTO /BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)


“These two faces tell the story of Turkey’s deadliest ever industrial disaster,” writes Bulent Kilic, who captured this embrace between a father and his son, rescued from a horrific death after a mine blast left hundreds trapped underground.

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Oct 25 2014

A black flag torn down

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) 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)


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.

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Oct 16 2014

Watching the Kobane battle from 'media hill'

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) 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)

Kurdish people look at the Syrian town of Kobane from the Turkish side of the border on October 11, 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.

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Oct 7 2014

Black flag over Kobane

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) 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)

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.

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