20 Dec 2012

Syria: on our own

SyriaSitting in a snowstorm at the Syrian-Lebanese frontier I am suddenly receiving tweets again.

At the risk of repeating myself, there’s some nonsense being pedalled on social media about the story we broke recently in Aqrab.

Without disclosing sources or names which would be stupid, unprofessional and simply dangerous, let me make it clear once and for all how we got the story.

At no point were we ever accompanied by any government media “minder”.

Indeed, except for tonight’s film with the army where we had a minder (as you do with all armies) I have never asked for, worked with or had imposed any minder in Syria on any trip here, ever.

Full speed ahead

Anyone who says that journalists here work with minders is wrong, so far as my own experience goes.

We travelled with an official permit from Damascus to Hama. The permission came through when it was made clear we’d attempt to reach Aqrab with or without permission.

Our driver and fixer – hired independently of government, accompanied myself and our cameraman.

In Hama we met our own sources from Aqrab and villages close by. They said one of them would show us the way.

The safe route?

At one point a safe route was in doubt so our local phoned ahead for a friend to meet and escort us.

He too had no government connection in any capacity.

We had no official permission to travel beyond Hama and either avoided checkpoints or were allowed to proceed.

Under these circumstances we met people who had no idea who we were or why we’d suddenly arrived.

They told their story independently of each other and with no government people present.

Follow @alextomo on Twitter

Tweets by @alextomo