DAY 683 - JANUARY 22, 2013
Syrian Rebels capture Mayadin, a regime army base outside of Deir Ez Zor, which confirms that most of the city is now under opposition control. In an attempt to lure FSA forces out of hiding, cellphone and internet reception across Syria becomes spotty, pressuring rebels to communicate via landline, a method that is traceable by the Assad's government. Islamist faction Jabhat Al Nusra is declared a terrorist organization by the United States and embattled Syrian President Bashar Al Assad begins deploying Scud missiles, thereby continuing to escalate the conflict. On average more than 100 people are dying everyday in Syria and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that over 45,000 people have been killed in the country since the start of the conflict in March 2011.
You learn that Richard Engel, NBC's number one journalist on the ground, is kidnapped by the Shabiha. However, a firefight between the rebels and Engel's captors leads to the NBC crew escaping into Turkey. The new year has passed and snowfall has appeared in the Kurdish mountains, in and around Iraq. You are still with the YPG but feel it may be time to move towards the liberated cities in the east, which have sprung up in the last few months. The eastern front of Syria is rapidly falling to rebel forces. In addition to Deir Ez Zor, the Bab Al Hawa crossing with Turkey and Syria, one of the main lifelines for opposition supplies, is under FSA control. You see Al Raqqa, a desert town between you and Aleppo, as the next point of liberation. You wonder if the Kurds can get you there safely. You have heard that Jabhat Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda-affiliated brigade, is also the main force in the area. Nonetheless, You may be the only journalists to attempt an approach as the opposition surge is happening.
- Continue to convoy with the Kurds in northeastern Syria. You know exactly how dangerous it is out there, too dangerous.
- Attempt to approach Al Raqqa. This may be the best time to ride the wave of liberation.
- Inquire about Captagon. It means you will need to head west, towards Homs and into dangerous territory, but it just might be worth it for the story no one has covered.