Zohra Bensemra is a news photographer for Reuters. Based in Algiers, she traveled on assignment to Syria in February. This is her account of that journey:
The contact from Syria called: “Be ready in 30 minutes,” he said. “If you want to go, we have to go now.”
From the moment we left our Turkish hotel near the border, my colleague and I traveled on dirt roads used by smugglers and farmers around Syria’s northern frontier. The highways were busy with soldiers and shabbiha, irregular pro-Assad fighters.
Unlike in Libya, where clear frontlines divided rebels from Muammar Gaddafi’s army, in Syria, frontlines cut through villages and criss-cross farmlands in a treacherous maze. One village might be pro-Assad, the president’s picture hanging in every window, the next a solidly rebel-held town, another a mixture of communities where you could not trust your neighbor.
In Libya, miles divided the warring parties. In Syria, enemies are yards apart. The war is being fought from house to house. Not knowing the local terrain, we were completely dependent on our rebel guides to keep us alive.
Read more: ‘My journey into Syria’s nightmare’