Deborah Amos, an NPR Middle East Correspondent, captivated a CU audience with her tales of reporting in war torn country Syria.
NPR Middle East Correspondent Deborah Amos speaks to an overcrowded Humanities classroom on Wednesday. (Kai Casey/CU Independent)
The 40-minute talk, entitled “Stories from the Syrian Frontline,” was held at 5 p.m. in Humanities 250 to a crowd of over 100 spectators. Amos’ work can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, all of which are NPR shows. She has worked on television news shows such as Nightline, Frontline and World News Tonight.
The Arab Uprising, also known as the Arab Spring, has lead Syria on a treacherous journey, which has included deaths, uprisings and violent war in the country.
Amos travels from England to Syria often to report on the Middle East conflict.
“I am based in a Turkish resort town, Antakya, near the border of Syria… It is as close as you can get to Syria without being there,” Amos said.
Her first-hand accounts of the situation in Syria reveal personalized details about the distressed country.
“From my observations over the last two years, war has hardened the country. It has radicalized many of the people. It has forced people to make very hard choices,” Amos said.
“Most of the refugees are women and children,” she said. More than two-thirds of the children have seen a member of their family killed. About one-third of them suffer from acute depression. There are at least 60,000 people dead.”
Amos provided an exclusive look into how the situation began.
Deborah Amos, an NPR Middle East Correspondent, answers a question from a member of the audience during the question and answer session. (Kai Casey/CU Independent)
“This revolt began not with young people swarming a central plaza, but with a particularly horrific torture scene,” she said. “Teenagers had their fingernails pulled out by Syrian intelligence operatives for daring to write revolutionary slogans on a wall in a dusty farming town.”
“In Aleppo, the largest city in the country, the fighting has actually almost stopped. The rebels control about 60% of the city.”
With the rise of social media and the increase in technological developments, websites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have proved to be key tools in Syria for spreading word of the revolution, organizing events and providing information to the world.
According to Amos, the increasingly large population of young people in the country has helped to fuel the revolution, as much of the youth is involved. Many have snuck out at night to participate in events and some have even convinced their parents to fight alongside them.
“The Syrian conflict has morphed into a media war between opposing camps,” Amos said.
Steven Kreimendahl, a 20-year-old sophomore Jewish studies and journalism major, has read a lot about the Syrian conflict on the news, but thought Amos’ speech provided a different view.
“She provided a much more personal insight than I’ve read on the news,” Kreimendahl said. “[The news] is just what is factually going on rather than what it’s like to be there.”
Molly Hepworth, a 23-year-old senior journalism major, is very familiar with the Syrian conflict and thought that Amos provided good information.
“[Her speech] was really enlightening. She had a lot of good information,” Hepworth said. “[Amos] provided a new perspective not shown on the news. She brought up points about what needs to be done. It’s one of those things that makes you want to see how you can make a difference in a place like that.”
The months of violence in Syria seem to have no definite end in sight.
“The rebels have been unable to deliver a deathblow,” Amos said.
According to NPR.com, there was a bombing on Tuesday at a university in Aleppo while students were taking exams. The Syrian army said in a statement that “its troops killed and wounded dozens of ‘terrorist mercenaries’ in the city following the attacks.”
When asked whether or not she believes that President Obama’s Syrian policies will change in his second term, Amos said, “I don’t think so. I used to think so. If the rebels get close to winning, if the Russians calculate that this is not great for them, I think [Obama] will be reactive, but it seems to me that not much has changed.”
The reporting itself was described as difficult. With the death of 28 reporters and journalists in Syria so far, Deborah Amos, who has already been tear-gassed in Syria, is at risk in the country.
“I have four legal Visas,” Amos said. If you cross the border in Northern Syria, they know and you’re done. You kind of have to trust your instincts about who to believe. I never know what the story is going to be. I try to humanize it. It’s the hardest reporting that I’ve ever done, also because it’s dangerous. Syria is now the most dangerous reporting feed on Earth.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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