Caught in the middle of a firefight in Syria

Of all the revolts in the Arab world during the last year, the one in Syria has been the one that has been hardest to document.  Like Libya, Syria has no press freedom even in the best of times but in Libya, at least, the rebels took control of large swathes of territory in the east and photojournalists could come in behind them; in Syria, the frontline meanders alley by alley through the cities and the toll on journalists, civilians and rebels has been grave.  Anthony Shadid, perhaps the best American reporter on the Middle East, died in Syria of a severe asthma attack as he was being smuggled out of the country.  American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Rémi Ochlik were killed in Homs, site of some of the greatest unrest, when the house they were sheltering in was shelled by the Syrian Army.  Many others have been injured; most are never allowed into the country.  As a result of these constraints on coverage, it has been very difficult to get an accurate sense of the violence being done to the Syrian people.

Still, word gets out: Syrians blog and tweet like anyone else, using proxy servers to disseminate amateur video.  Complementing this, Jon Lee Anderson has an excellent piece from Homs (subscription required) in the latest New Yorker.  But then there is this video,which comes from Channel 4 via Robert Mackey’s New York Times blog The Lede.  The narration adds little of value but the footage shot by a French photographer who goes by the pseudonym Mani is extraordinary: caught in the middle of a firefight, it gives a terrifyingly close and intimate view of what it means to fight an irregular war in the middle of a city.

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Click here to read about the CIA’s role in the series of coups in Syria in the 1960s.  Or here to read my other posts about the Middle East.

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