Saturday, June 01, 2013

Yara Abbas in Her Own Words


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Reputable Journalist Sharmine Narwani, who is based in Lebanon, writes a tribute to Yara Abbas, who was killed in Homs while covering the Syrian army operation in Al-Qusayr and surrounding areas.
She also dedicates her article to a list of other media personnel who died while covering the conflict.
The following are excerpts from Narwani’s article. Syria Report recommends reading in full.
I met Al Ikhbariya journalist Yara Abbas for the first and only time in August 2012. I was organizing my trip into Aleppo and was looking to talk to someone on the ground about safety issues. An acquaintance of Yara’s who worked at my hotel told me he knew a journalist on the front lines of the conflict in Aleppo, and gave me her number. When Yara and I finally spoke, she was on her way back to Damascus and warned me down the phone line about the road between Aleppo and its airport, at the time subject to random checkpoints set up by armed rebels.
Yara’s account of her nine days embedded with the army in Aleppo confirmed this for me, but she surprised me with the information that the soldiers she travelled with mostly slept in the conflict zone itself – in a vacant home or sometimes on the street. Having wrested back territory, they were unwilling to leave it for the night.  When I asked her if she was afraid, Yara was emphatic that she has never been afraid of moving in sniper-filled corridors. She told me that the soldiers – whom she had first met in Damascus and then followed into Aleppo – protected her with their lives and made her feel safe.
On the militias: I saw three from Lebanon, one from Africa, from Libya. All of the ones whose passports we found in their hideout had travelled to Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Turkey – there are stamps in their passports. Some of their weapons are coming on the Lebanon-Syria border via donkeys.
They send out women and kids to see where the soldiers are, what they are doing. I saw a woman with a stroller myself – soldiers asked me to go talk to her. She had guns in her pram that she was delivering to militias.
They sent an old man past one checkpoint saying he wants to go check on his home – he had a bomb on him and they detonated it.
On the Syrian army:You see our soldiers when they are attacked, sometimes when they are dead. You cannot be separated from this. These soldiers know they’re going to be killed. They stand in the middle of the street and shoot – they are not afraid. They have a mission.
A soldier from Talbiseh (near Homs) has seven gunshots in his body from Duma and he’s come back to fight.
From Rastan, Deraa, Idlib – all of them don’t want to go back – they want to stay and fight.
One soldier, a Sunni from Idlib had a gunshot in his leg – he refused to leave the army. He went to the hospital and came back the next day to fight in Aleppo. In Idlib militias put pressure on his family to make him leave the army – they took his brother for a while, beat him up a bit. But the soldier said “they can take my whole family, but not my country.” I did a story on him.

http://syriareport.net/yara-abbas-in-her-own-words/

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