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David Arnold

David Arnold coordinates the Syria Witness project at Middle East Voices and reports on Middle East and North Africa affairs for both Voice of America and MEV. The Syria Witness project publishes on-the-ground citizen reporting, giving Syrians the opportunity to offer to a global audience their first-person narratives of life on the streets of their war-torn country.

SYRIA WITNESS: Bombs, Snipers and Rumors of Hezbollah Threaten Aleppo

Following the take-over of Qusair by Syrian government forces, observers of the country’s bloody conflict predict that President Bashar al-Assad will strike next at rebel-held areas of Aleppo, the Syria’s commercial center. Ahmad al-Hamadi is, by his own account, an Aleppo University employee who in this installment of Syria Witness reports about the hazards More »

QUICKTAKE: A Rare Glimpse Into Syria’s Besieged Qusair

Supported by more than 4,000 Shia Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Army this week sealed off the rebel-held town of Qusair, a strategic crossroads for supplies about 15 kilometers from the border with Lebanon. Early in the week Syrian government forces reportedly reclaimed nearby Daba’a air base. Several hundred members of the rebel More »

SYRIA WITNESS: My Close Encounter With Jabhat Al-Nusra

Mousab al-Hamadee, an activist with the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, was recently awarded a fellowship to study at Syracuse University as well as an internship with the International Peace and Security Institute in Washington, D.C.  He has in the past authored several Syria Witness reports describing his life as an activist in Syria’s More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Activists Labor to Seed New Beginnings

Syrian American Shiyam Galyon lives in Houston, Texas. She recently traveled to Syria as part of a humanitarian relief project distributing food and medical supplies in rebel-controlled Aleppo and its suburbs. Galyon is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she had been active in several campaigns to help the needy. More »

SYRIA WITNESS: When Snipers Leave, Students Return to Classes

Sami of Qusayr, by his own account an English lecturer, gave up teaching at his university to support Syria’s revolution. When government forces began to vacate local schools they had seized he agreed to resume teaching, not to university students but to 11th-graders. Read his story below. Middle East Voices’ “Syria Witness” series features personal More »

QUICKTAKE: Using Art to Reveal Love, Hate in Syria Conflict

A graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University, Tammam Azzam, abandoned a successful decade as a promising painter to escape the dangers of the Syrian war. He settled into a small apartment in Dubai with a computer and some PhotoShop software to embark on a new artistic mission: to vividly convey More »

QUICKTAKE: Losing World Heritage in Syria’s Civil War

In Syria, much of the heaviest fighting between government forces and rebels seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad occurs on terrain with landmarks of immeasurable historical value . Videos and the global media report revolutionary brigades seeking shelter in medieval castles, flames destroying Aleppo’s shops dating back to medieval times (pictured More »

QUICKTAKE: Syria Opposition Official Talks About Needed Relief

Four days before the opposition Syrian National Coalition elected Ghassan Hitto interim prime minister, he was directing humanitarian aid to areas of Syria now under the control of rebel forces. Prior to his election, Hitto, a 50-year-old U.S.-educated technocrat, spoke to senior reporter David Arnold about the dire situation inside Syria. He said that most  More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Running the Town of Qusayr Without Assad

Sami, by his own account, is an activist-turned-school teacher who writes about changes that have taken place in his hometown of Qusayr since the uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad began nearly two years ago. In the midst of the conflict that has destroyed much of Quasayr, Sami recently visited its newly-elected city council More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Documenting Life, Death and Destruction

Ahmed Da is, by his own account, a citizen photojournalist. He shared with us his story of how he organized Lens Young Homsi, a group of like-minded photojournalists, who set out to use a Facebook page to tell the world about life, death and destruction in Homs, their hometown. To date, their Facebook page, More »

SYRIA WITNESS: ‘She Refused to Even Look at Me’

Yisser Bittar, a Syrian-American, tells us that since she was a little girl she used to travel to Homs every year to visit relatives. Due to the civil war and intense fighting in the city, she was unable to visit last year, but says that she and six other Syrian-Americans managed in December to More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Getting into the Spirit of a Free Syria

Kenan Rahmani is a law student at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S. state of Indiana. He shared with us that he has traveled to Syria to assist an activist network with  English-language media relations. He says he recently returned again to Syria with a small group of expatriates from the Syrian More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Villagers Write ‘Freedom Forever’ on Their Walls

Yisser Bittar, a Syrian-American, tells us that since she was a little girl she used to travel to Homs every year to visit relatives. Due to the civil war and intense fighting in the city, she was unable to visit last year, but says that she and six other Syrian-Americans managed in December to More »

SYRIA WITNESS: A Mother Saves Her Son from the Draft

Rund, by her own account, is a citizen journalist in Izraa, Syria. In this installment of her regular posts she shares the story of a family’s daring escape from Syria into neighboring Jordan. Middle East Voices’ “Syria Witness” series features personal accounts by citizen-journalists inside Syria about the grim challenges of survival in a war More »

QUICKTAKE: Autonomy for Kurds, Alawites in Syria?

Dozens of Syrian street activists met in Istanbul and other venues in Turkey in recent weeks to discuss unity within the opposition Syrian National Coalition. Their goals were to present a united front to potential donors of the Friends of the Syrian People umbrella group and to effect regime change. Gokhan Bacik, an associate professor More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Expats Get Close-up View of Syria Conflict

Last month, a small group of Syrian-Americans traveled to Syria’s northern region where rebels now control large parts of the country’s commercial capital, Aleppo. On that trip, the group got to see how a city functions and how people live – and die – in a state of war. The group also met with More »

QUICKTAKE: A Pro-Western Syrian Opposition – Possible or Pipe Dream?

A group of more than 100 nations calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down formally recognized a newly formed Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Delegates at the “Friends of Syria” conference hosted by Morocco endorsed the Syrian National Coalition on Wednesday. A veteran observer of Syrian political history More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Weddings, Marriage in the Midst of Conflict

Sami, a self-described citizen-journalist in Qusayr, writes about how the prolonged armed conflict in Syria has changed not only the outlook on weddings and marriages but also longstanding traditions surrounding them. Sami has shared previous narratives about barrel bombings, a Christian friend who fled Syria, and the impact his brother’s combat injury has had More »

SYRIA WITNESS: ‘This Assad Regime Is Trying to Destroy Syrian Communities’

During a Skype interview with Syria Witness, Abu Hadi identified himself as a former businessman who joined the protests in Syria at the beginning of the uprising in March of 2011. Abu Hadi is not his real name. He said he has become involved in the political realm of the movement to oust President More »

SYRIA WITNESS: Radio Launches Hope From Far Away

A small number of exiled Syrians in Paris, Cairo and other cities launched a radio station called SouriaLi (My Syria / Surrealist) in October for the people of war-torn Syria. The programming is uncensored and available from a Cairo studio as a web-based series of podcasts on Two of the station’s founders spoke More »