Tag Archives: Damascus

Syria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most

Syria has always been a tough place to cover for journalists. Confidently authoritarian with a ruthlessly formidable security and intelligence apparatus, Syria has long been one of the most policed of Arab police states. So when some Syrians defied their government to take to the streets in the southern city of Dara‘a in March 2011, the temptation to cover the story was overwhelming for many, including myself.

The story of the Syrian uprising is ultimately the tale of regular citizens silencing the policeman in their heads, breaking their own personal barriers of fear to speak, to demonstrate, to demand, to reject, to no longer be afraid, to live in dignity. It’s about what these people will do, what they will endure, and what they are prepared to become to achieve their aims.

It is also the story of a significant portion of the population that considers the regime of President Bashar Assad the country’s best option, because they believe in its Baathist secular ideology or directly benefit from its patronage or don’t have confidence in Assad’s opponents and fear what may come next. Understanding what this segment of the population will accept in terms of state violence, the narratives they choose to believe and their concerns is a critical component of the story, though one that is harder to obtain, given the paucity of press visas issued by Damascus.

The only way to tell the Syrian story, really tell it, is to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it, whether in Syria on in the neighboring states that many Syrians have fled to. It isn’t easy to do — the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York City, has dubbed Syria the “most dangerous place for journalists in the world” — but it is essential. Nothing beats being there. There is no compensating for seeing, feeling, touching, capturing, living the story.

The images here are a testament to the power of being on the ground, of sharing and capturing a moment for posterity, of translating an element of a person’s life through imagery.

Take a look at the photos. Can you place yourself in these situations? Can you imagine what it must be like? What do you feel when you look at the images? Are you drawn into them, or are you repulsed? Can you relate to them, or are they too alien? This is the power of translating on-the-ground reporting to an audience. This is why we must and will continue to document the Syrian uprising from inside the country when we can, and we — members of the foreign press corps — are not alone. Sadly, as is often the case, local journalists (both professional and citizen) have disproportionately borne the brunt of the casualties in this crisis. Still, this story is not about members of the media and what we go through to tell it; it’s about the Syrians who entrust their testimonies, their experiences, their hopes, their fears, their images to us in the hope that they will help explain what is happening in one of the most pivotal states in the Middle East.

—Rania Abouzeid


This collection of testimonies is the third in a series by TIME documenting iconic images of conflict. See “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” and “Afghanistan: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” for more.

Abouzeid is a Middle East correspondent for TIME. Reporting by Vaughn Wallace.



Pictures of the Week: November 23 – 30

directory submission . Guillain-Barr syndrome .

From protests in Egypt and life in the aftermath of the Gaza conflict to Myanmar’s refugee camps and volcanic lava spilling into the ocean in Hawaii, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

The Syrian Civil War: Photographs by Alessio Romenzi

The forces of President Bashar Assad have been relentless. They have continued to pound the predominantly Sunni enclave of Bab Amr in the city of Homs. They have struck at the rebellious town of Zabadani near the Lebanese border. Damascus is believed to be planting landmines near the Lebanese and Turkish borders even as the regime masses more troops nearby to deal with insurrectionists in the Idlib region in the northwest of the country. Meanwhile, in al-Qsair, a town south of Homs, government marksmen continued to take their toll. Says Alessio Romenzi, a photographer on assignment in the area for TIME: “The snipers do not sleep.”

Romenzi continues to document the work of the Free Syrian Army, a loose franchise of militias who are trying to coordinate their disparate campaigns against the Bashar government. Slowly, they are gathering weapons—though the increased demand for guns has kicked up the prices of Kalashnikovs. TIME’s Rania Abouzeid spent a day with FSA sympathizers trying to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to use against Damascus’ forces. Other FSA cells have already started using their own strung together versions of IEDs. The targets may include military trucks which will then be used to block roads to impede government supply lines. But most of all, they hope the IEDs will stop Assad’s tanks, which have been used not only to blast rebel emplacements but also reportedly to crush the regime’s opponents—physically.

More photographs from Syria by Alessio Romenzi can be seen here

Read more about the situation in Syria in the magazine: Syria’s Clashing Armies

Pictures of the Week, January 6 – January 13

From violence in Syria to the New Hampshire Republican primary and Uttar Pradesh’s giant stone elephant statues, TIME’s photo department presents the best images of the week.

Amazing Old Photos From Syria (Foreign Policy)

Syria has been on my mind of late as I watch the horrific events unfold on the news. I just saw this beautiful slideshow on the Foreign Policy website:

Once Upon a Time in Damascus

Sultan Selim Mosque, Damascus 1914.

Head over to Foreign Policy to see more wonderful old photographs from “Syria in a simpler day”

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