Syria: Journalists' Graveyard

At least 100 journalists have lost their lives since the crisis in Syria ignited. Few were foreigners; some of them prominent reporters who were seen as one of their kinds in our era. Marie Colvin, Anthony Shadid, Gilles Jacquire, and others died while on duty, each in a different way, all leaving behind them an aperture that's unlikely to be filled soon.

Despite the great loss, foreign journalists were mourned by the whole world, obituaries were written after them, books and TV programs were dedicated in their memory- an after death remembrance Syrian journalists dying on a daily basis haven't enjoyed. The death of Syrian journalists added bitter spices to the conflict. Those close to the opposition went under the regime's fire, and those on the other side we deemed regime "soldiers". This may easily be the only thing the warring foes agreed on.

For years before the revolution, Syria was known to be a non-friendly environment for journalists. The regime had zero tolerance for criticism, even if the story was covering a non-political issue.

I clearly recall two years ago, I produced a talk show about Damascus' architectural heritage for the BBC. The entire program was censored and reviewed by someone from the Syrian ministry of information. As a result, we were asked to do some adjustments, a request we never fulfilled.

Two years after the revolution, the mentality is only expected to change for the worse. Journalists are being killed discriminately by both the regime and the opposition for being sympathetic to either one of the two sides. Media workers in Syria have more to fear now than persecution, kidnapping and prison time; now, they pay for their stories with their lives.

Young media activists that rove under gunfire around Damascus and other cities are risking their lives to show the whole world the suffering people are going through because of the regime's crackdown. They live with the acceptance that they may be killed on this occasion or any other time, but that is second to delivering the message they are risking their lives for.

Mohammed Al Hourany is the latest victim; he was shot dead by a sniper just days ago while covering the clashes in his hometown of Deraa. He was one of Aljazeera's reporters in Syria, most of whom are embedded behind opposition lines.

Hours before Al Hourany's death, Yves Debay, a French 59-year-old war correspondent veteran was killed in Allepo. Yves previously covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Balkans, and Libya.

Maya Nasser, Iran's "Press TV" correspondent in Damascus, was also killed by a sniper shot while embedded within the Syrian Army. His death was blamed on the opposition, and the latter didn't even care to deny, given Maya's channel is Iranian and Iranians support the regime.
Syria is blatantly the worst place for a journalist to be in now; choices of death are range from airplane bombs to bombardments, and even knives and swords are available. But the most common in the past months were sniper shots. It's the price journalists must accept to pay for doing their job. It's obvious now that whoever rules Syria, hostility towards journalists will always exist as a malady with no panacea.