Yaara Bou Melhem
Here’s a report from the frontlines in Syria from Yaara Bou Melhem, the first Western journalist given access to the labyrinth of secret caves used as a staging base by the Free Syrian Army in its revolution to topple strongman Bashar al-Assad. The 3,000-year-old caves serve as a huge strategic asset. ”The army besieged us many times and we always slipped through,” an FSA leader declares.
But local knowledge will only go so far and the rebels are hard-pressed to counter the might of the Syrian army with limited resources. As one failed test run of a home-made mortar shows, they don’t have much to work with. They are disheartened by months of fighting without help. Says the FSA spokesman, “America and Europe hide behind the Russian veto. They lie to us.”
Even the head of the Free Syrian Army, Col. Riad al-Assad, is unable to help. As rebel groups come to him for guidance, he can only encourage coordination. When asked about the suicide bomb that killed the minister of defense, he says, “This is an integral part of the revolutionary action. It could break the regime’s back.”
In 2011, Yaara Bou Melhem was named Young Australian Journalist of the Year by the Walkley Foundation for her reporting from Syria. She spent 2010 in Beirut and now reports for Australian and International networks around the world. Visit her website at
. H/T Journeyman Pictures