Breaking Apart: The Syrian Conflict


Additional Info

  • Project Description: The Civil War in Syria is now in it’s third year. At the time I am writing this there are approximately 70,000 who have lost their lives and well over a million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq. The number of displaced persons who have fled their homes and the violence still living in Syria is around 4 million. These numbers are rising rapidly every day. The number escaping to Jordan is over 1 thousand daily.

    At the beginning of the Revolution in March, 2011, Syria had been under the the present leadership of the Assad regime since 1961. In 1961 it was Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, that headed the regime. Bashar took over the Presidency when his father died in June, 2010. The Assad family belongs to a minority sect, the Alawite, which is 7% of the population. The Revolutionaries in Syria are members of the majority sect, the Sunni, who are 70%. There are several other minority sects: Christian, Shiites, Kurds and Druze. Since the beginning of the Assad regime, the Sunni have lived under brutal suppression administered by the 16 branches of the intelligence, the Shabiha. I was told by individuals who I interviewed that the Shabiha are essentially protection rackets, extorting money, torturing and sending people to prison for little or no reason. In March, 2011 the Sunni majority had had enough and with the forming of The Free Syrian Army, the Revolution began.

    In March of 2012 I was in Jordan on my way home from working on another project in Afghanistan. It was by chance that I was taken to the north of Jordan and introduced to some of the first refugees to flee the Syrian conflict. I immediately became saddened and horrified by the stories of the refugees and the wounded.

    I returned to The Middle East in November and December of 2012, and then again in February and March of 2013. The project, Breaking Apart - The Syrian Conflict, expanded to include Lebanon, Turkey and Syria. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of refugees and wounded. In addition, on the Turkish-Syrian border there were thousands of displaced persons. All of the Syrian people that I interviewed reiterated the unbelievable terror, torture, and human rights violations.

    I have photographed many families and individuals who left their homes with nothing. I am currently documenting their lives in refugee camps, makeshift homes, and clinics. I am photographing their day to day life and how difficult it is to survive knowing that your homeland is being destroyed. Many live with the knowledge that remaining family and friends are being tortured and killed. Also, I have photographed many wounded warriors, many of whom will return to the battle as soon they have recovered. Many of them will not be physically able to fight, but they will continue to help the revolution in any way possible.

    The future of the Middle East will largely be determined by the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Therefore, the events unfolding now in the lives of these refugees need to be documented. The stories and photographs of the people who are fleeing are as important as the stories and photographs of the fighting armies. For the world to be informed of the complete truth of what is happening in Syria, the stories that I am photographing and recording need to be seen and heard. Many Syrians expressed wanting to live in a democracy, but there is little understanding of what that means and what it would take to make that happen after living under a brutal dictatorship for so long.