July 20, 2012
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR CORRESPONDENT KELLY MCEVERS REPORTS FROM INSIDE SYRIA,
WHERE RURAL AREAS INCREASINGLY UNDER REBEL CONTROL

MCEVERS, NOW IN TURKEY, TRAVELED WITH REBELS;
REPORTS TONIGHT ON 'ALL THINGS CONSIDERED'

NPR foreign correspondent Kelly McEvers has just returned from a week inside northern Syria, where she traveled in rural, rebel-controlled areas and gained a rare view of the anti-government forces known as the Free Syrian Army. McEvers traveled through five towns and villages near the Turkish border; one changed hands four times in the span of the week she was in the country.

She describes her time in Syria tonight on All Things Considered. Audio will be available at 7PM (ET) at NPR.org; excerpts are below. All next week, McEvers will report extensively on what she experienced and witnessed in a series on Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In conversations with host Audie Cornish, McEvers reports on the expansion of rebel-controlled areas along the Turkish border: "The last time I was with the rebels was back in November. And at that time the rebels would control a piece of a farm, or a stretch of road. Now it's entire villages. I was at a rebel hospital. I was at a police station that had been taken over by rebels. I was on a stretch of highway that had been controlled by rebels with rebel check-points. I was at a rebel ice-cream parlor at a rebel-controlled town, eating ice cream. So it shows you the freedom they enjoy in this part of Syria."

On reports today that rebels gained control of a border town, McEvers reports: "I just actually finished talking with a rebel commander who told me they don't control the entire town, but they do control the part that's right along the border. What's interesting about this town or any town they say they control: they may control it now, they may control part of it now. But then the regime may come back and control it the very next day."

McEvers describes the rebels as loosely organized, with small local militias acting very independently of one another. She reports: "Some of them are defected soldiers - people who've left the army. Most of them are civilians: carpenters, government employees, judges, people who live in these towns where there have been protests and the regime has responded to the protest by killing civilians. People who decided they just couldn't take it anymore, and they wanted to pick up arms and fight. ůMost of them are organized under sort of personalities - you know, the big guy in town, the guy who's got a lot of money, the guy who can afford to buy guns and pass them around, the guy who people are going to listen to."

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