Anthony Shadid’s Last Story: The Free Syrian Army

Photographer Tyler Hicks has written a powerful account of the last days of Anthony Shadid, the New York Times foreign correspondent who died from an asthma attack just 45 minutes from the border of Turkey on February 16. Shadid and Hicks had ventured into Syria under the cover of darkness and spent a week with fighters for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), soldiers who had defected because, as they told Shadid, they refused to follow orders to fire on civilians.

Shadid took copious notes but these are, writes Hicks, “barely decipherable.” Knowing that Shadid would have wanted some “record of this final trip,” Hicks has written about their week in Syria, meeting rebel fighters in Idlib province in northern Syria near the Turkish border:

The Free Syrian Army is much more organized than the rebel fighters in Libya. Because of the growing number of defectors, there’s a stock of able, trained soldiers and officers mounting in Syria. As the attack on the tanks showed, they don’t yet have the weapons to put up a realistic fight.

The New York Times has also published the photographs Hicks took of the fighters. The two that especially resonated with me are of fighters and civilians in a village street and of fighters spending an evening singing, dancing and playing traditional music after attacking a column of Syrian Army tanks, their rifles hung in a row on the wall.

Some activists asked to tape an interview with Shadid, just hours before he died. Noting that these are the “last images” of Shadid, Hicks quotes from the interview:

“Do you expect the regime will fall?” the interviewer asked [Shadid].

“I think it will,” he said. “But I think it will take a long time.”

Shadid’s death on February 16 was tragic as is the chance to read his reporting about a conflict that is approaching its one-year anniversary this month.

Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy, who was wounded in the attack on a media center in Homs that took the lives of foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and photographer René Ochlik, has given his first interview describing how he was smuggled out of the bombarded city via motorbike. He describes what is going on in Syria now as an “indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children” that is comparable to the 1990 killings in Bosnia and Rwanda.

The Syrian government has continued to bar a Red Cross convoy from entering the battered Bab Amr district of Homs, four days after FSA troops withdrew. Activists report that the district is now all but “deserted.” The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that it has brought aid to a “considerable” number of families who have fled Bab Amr and are now in the nearby village of Abel. The ICRC also says that up to 2,000 people are fleeing Syria to cross the border into northern Lebanon; some 7,000 Syrian refugees have already registered with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Lebanon.

Activists report that the Syrian army has been shelling other areas, including the al-Quosoor neighbourhood of northern Homs, where a number of large demonstrations were held during the siege of Bab Amr, and the city of Rastan norther of Homs, where the activist Local Coordinating Committee reports that five children have been killed.

China, Syria’s ally, has called for both sides to make an immediate ceasefire and initiate talks. On Sunday, a Saudi official said that Syrians have a right to arm themselves against the regime and that Damascus is “imposing itself by force” and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching citizens in desperate need of medical supplies, food and more. Qatar and Libya have also offered to help rebel forces opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Previous Care2 Coverage

A “Farce” of a Referendum Held in Syria As Violence Continues

Turkey’s Jewish Narrative: Tolerance With A Dark Side

Siege of Homs Enters 21st Day As “Friends of Syria” Meet in Tunis


Photo of Anthony Shadid by Terissa Schor

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Ellen Mccabe
ellen m.3 years ago

Robert O. said it all perfectly and concisely. Thanks Kristina

Kip A.
Kip A.3 years ago

Frontline did an episode on Syria at the end of this last year and Shadid had some very poignant things to say about what was going on. I honestly did not put two and two together on his death until after watching that episode. It is WELL worth a watch!

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago

Thanks Kristina.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago


John Duqesa
Past Member 3 years ago

For goodness sake, Robert O. Why is al-Assad a madman for doing what any government in the world would do, that is, resist a an externally financed and directed rebellion against his legitimate government?

Sue H.
Sue H.3 years ago

Thank you Anthony Shadid for your reporting. May you rest in peace.

Marianna B M.


Tim Cheung
Tim C.3 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O.3 years ago

It's such a sad and tragic situation that grows more dire by the day thanks to that authoritarian madman, Bashar al-Assad.

On another note, Anthony Shadid will be greatly missed. He was a passionate journalist and caring human being.

Thanks Kristina.

John Duqesa
Past Member 3 years ago

Or, Marilyn, he could stay in power - if only the outside forces arrayed against him would leave Syria alone.