For just the second time since September, Anderson Cooper will be hosting his CNN show from another country on Monday night, as he reports from the border between Syria and Turkey.
Since last spring, Syria has been embroiled in a violent conflict between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and insurgents demanding regime change. By its own count, the United Nations is now aiding 70,000 Syrian refugees. Nearly 25,000 people have fled to neighboring Turkey, where they are now settled in camps.
On Friday, Cooper and his team traveled to the border between the two countries to tell some of their stories. It's the second foreign trip he's made for CNN since the launch of his daytime talk show in September. (The other instance was his report on the two-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.) He described the gravity of the situation in Syria in an interview with The Huffington Post on Monday.
“Everyone you meet has lost somebody — a son, a cousin, a brother,” he said.
Cooper described speaking with parents who showed him a picture of their son’s corpse, and meeting a seven-month old baby who was born after its father was presumed dead.
The CNN host said his experience was "incredibly moving," as is the case whenever he speaks to victims of tragedy. He also noted that the war in Syria has stood out because the violence has been extensively documented.
"We can't say we don't know about what's happening," he said, comparing the situation to another conflict. "During the genocide in Rwanda, some people said we didn't know about what was happening. In past conflicts, people said, "Well, we didn't see it on a daily basis.' Nobody can say that about this conflict."
He credited the work of reporters and civilians who have uploaded footage of the violence for bringing it to light.
"Even though reporters have been restricted, the government continues to lie on the ground, you see the truth about these protests," he said. "We've seen it with our own eyes and seen it on our screens, and yet not enough has been done to try to stop it. We've seen civilian populations, from the beginning, shot in the streets... It's rare in a conflict you see that happening everyday."
The war has been notoriously dangerous for members of the media. Numerous journalists — including American correspondent Marie Colvin, New York Times’ Anthony Shadid and Syrian journalist Mazhar Tayyara — have died. Cooper paid tribute to their work on Monday, saying,
"I think journalists have done an extraordinary job to risk their own lives to tell this story — both professional journalists and individuals who have turned on their cell phones and pointed it at the regime and pressed record, and we've seen people who have died taking videos and these are people who have risked their lives to bear witness to what's happening."
Since the beginning of the year, Cooper has devoted over half of his CNN coverage to Syria. His special report airs on CNN on Monday at 8 p.m. EST.
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