comment 0

Kobane – my assignment along the Syrian border

By Sedat Suna

Once I learnt that I was supposed to go to the Syrian border I called the local journalists and the people I knew in the area. I started arranging for accommodation and transport, and left for the border near Kobane. When I first arrived, the intensity of the conflict was still rather low, so I concentrated mainly on covering the refugees who had entered Turkey. I did so for a week and a half. When the situation worsened and combat action increased, I started to take photos of the refugees during the day and then turned to the combat area near the border.

Syrian refugees are watched by Turkish gendarmerie police forces as they wait to cross the Mursitpinar border gate from Turkey to join their families on the Syrian side of the border, near Sanliurfa, in the Suruc district, Turkey, 28 September 2014. epa / Sedat Suna

Syrian refugees are watched by Turkish gendarmerie police forces as they wait to cross the Mursitpinar border gate from Turkey to join their families on the Syrian side of the border, near Sanliurfa, in the Suruc district, Turkey, 28 September 2014. epa / Sedat Suna

I set up my daily plan, made contact with the people at the border and was informed by them before any action took place. In a second phase, the fighting moved closer to the border, so I decided to cover the conflict from the vantage point of a hill from where Kobane city could be seen best. Once the US-led coalition started bombing, I mostly took pictures in the safety along the border line.

A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rises after an airstrike by an allegedly allianz war plane to Islamic State targets at the west of Kobane, Syria, where Kurdish fighters YPG are trying to defend the city, near Suruc district, Sanliurfa, Turkey, 08 October 2014. epa / Sedat Suna

A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rises after an airstrike by an allegedly allianz war plane to Islamic State targets at the west of Kobane, Syria, where Kurdish fighters YPG are trying to defend the city, near Suruc district, Sanliurfa, Turkey, 08 October 2014. epa / Sedat Suna

In all my moves, security came first. Once safety was established, I set out to work. That was the theory. However, on the first day of bombing, bullets sprayed the hill I was working on and one of the bullets got stuck in the very place where I had been sitting just a few minutes earlier. The day all the journalists had been kept away from the frontier zone, three howitzers hit the ground near where we used to be standing.

Syrian refugee Hacer Abdul with her new born baby Bewar and some of her other children in a refugee camp in the Suruc district, Sanliurfa, Turkey, 20 October 2014. epa / Sedat Suna

Syrian refugee Hacer Abdul with her new born baby Bewar and some of her other children in a refugee camp in the Suruc district, Sanliurfa, Turkey, 20 October 2014. epa / Sedat Suna

I did not go there after that time for security reasons. While border clashes near Kobane were continuing, the protests in the city center continued to escalate. I was getting information from the local press, going to the regions of protests to take some photos and turning my back to the frontier zone right after that. After the tent city for the refugees in Suruç had been set up, I went there in the evenings. In brief, I divided my days into three parts: In the mornings, I took pictures of refugees, then moved on to the clashes along the border line and in the evenings before sunset, I worked in the tent cities. All in all, I spent 18 days in the frontier zone near Kobane.*

*stop press: Since writing this, Sedat Suna was called back to the area covering the situation in Kobane and the refugee camp in Suruc.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter to stay in touch for more insightful stories from behind the scenes.

Leave a Reply