Syria, Decisively Seen

Moises Saman—Magnum
Moises Saman—Magnum
A Syrian flag flies over a makeshift barricade built by young anti-regime protestors on a street in the Syrian city of Hama, July 16, 2011.

In July, while working for the New York Times, photographer Moises Saman journeyed into Syria as the first Western photographer to enter the country since the conflict between anti-government protestors and forces of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad began. His photographs of activists inside the city of Hama accompany TIME correspondent Rania Abouzeid’s revealing story based on a week of her own clandestine reporting in Syria. Saman and Abouzeid both discovered a Syrian opposition movement stubborn in the face of the regime’s troops, tanks and intelligence agents – but without a clear leadership.

The uprising in Syria is five-months old and in spite of losing the support of many allies, including its close friend Turkey, the Assad government has shown little sign of weakness. But on Thursday, after months of urging Assad to reform, President Obama directly called on him to step down. His demand was echoed by similar calls for Assad to resign by the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Canada. Obama also announced the freezing of all Syrian assets within reach of the US government.

Saman’s and Abouzeid’s work provide unique insight into a regime that has besieged some its own cities – and is now itself increasing under siege from the international community.

Matthew McAllester is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a correspondent for Newsday for thirteen years. McAllester is the author of “Blinded by the Sunlight: Surviving Abu Ghraib and Saddam’s Iraq“, and “Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother’s Kitchen.” His latest book, “Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar: Stories of Food during Wartime by the World’s Leading Correspondents” comes out in October. Moises Saman, a Magnum photographer based in New York and Cairo, was recently featured on LightBox with his work from Libya. Saman and McAllester were colleagues at Newsday. McAllester wrote the introduction for Saman’s book, “This is War“.

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