Deborah Amos

Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.

Amos travels extensively across the Middle East covering a range of stories including the rise of well-educated Syria youth who are unqualified for jobs in a market-drive economy, a series focusing on the emerging power of Turkey and the plight of Iraqi refugees.

In 2009, Amos won the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting from Georgetown University and in 2010 was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Life Time Achievement Award by Washington State University. Amos was part of a team of reporters who won a 2004 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for coverage of Iraq. A Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1991-1992, Amos was returned to Harvard in 2010 as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School.

In 2003, Amos returned to NPR after a decade in television news, including ABC's Nightline and World News Tonight and the PBS programs NOW with Bill Moyers and Frontline.

When Amos first came to NPR in 1977, she worked first as a director and then a producer for Weekend All Things Considered until 1979. For the next six years, she worked on radio documentaries, which won her several significant honors. In 1982, Amos received the Prix Italia, the Ohio State Award, and a DuPont-Columbia Award for "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown" and in 1984 she received a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for "Refugees."

From 1985 until 1993, Amos spend most of her time at NPR reporting overseas, including as the London Bureau Chief and as an NPR foreign correspondent based in Amman, Jordan. During that time, Amos won several awards, including an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a Break thru Award, and widespread recognition for her coverage of the Gulf War in 1991.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Amos is also the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East (Public Affairs, 2010) and Lines in the Sand: Desert Storm and the Remaking of the Arab World (Simon and Schuster, 1992).

Amos began her career after receiving a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida at Gainesville.

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Middle East
8:39 am
Sun March 3, 2013

Miles From Home, Syrians Vote In Free Elections

As Aleppo residents in the Tariq al-Bab district recover from this week's attack by Syrian regime forces, delegates from the city are in Turkey holding an election for local officials.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 9:24 am

In Syria's northern province of Aleppo, the war is far from over. Yet civilians are planning a dramatic gesture: an election for a civilian government.

This weekend, delegates from across the province are taking part in the first free vote outside of the control of President Bashar Assad's regime. Its location: Gaziantep, Turkey.

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Middle East
2:32 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Syrian Rebels: New U.S. Aid Not Helpful Without Weapons

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 4:30 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For American policy analysts, today's announcement of direct food aid and medical supplies to Syrian rebels is a significant shift. But a top commander in the forces fighting the Syrian regime says it's not nearly enough. NPR's Deborah Amos met that commander in northern Syria today.

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Middle East
1:42 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Syrian Rebels, Secular And Islamist, Both Claim The Future

Secular demonstrators, shown at a protest march this month in Aleppo, wave the old Syrian flag (green, white, black and red) that has become the symbol of their opposition movement.
Aamir Qureshi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 6:17 pm

Syria's Islamists have grown in influence as the war against President Bashar Assad's government grinds on. They have proved to be effective fighters, well armed and funded.

But as Islamists have grown stronger on the battlefield, more Syrians are asking about their political ideas and what that will mean for the future of the country.

A recent confrontation between liberal protesters and Islamists in the northwestern Syrian city of Saraqeb, which was caught on video, set off a heated online debate.

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Middle East
3:43 am
Thu February 21, 2013

A Visit To A Christian Community In Syria

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:47 am

Syria's minority Christians are caught in the middle of the country's 23-month conflict. Many members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East are fleeing Syria. Those who stay say they fear they will be targeted by Islamist militants — a growing force among rebels fighting President Assad's regime.

Middle East
2:20 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Newly Displaced Syrians Head For Turkish Border

Syrian people wait at a customs gate at the Turkey-Syria border near Reyhanli, Turkey, last week. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing central Syria, heading to southern Turkey.
Gaia Anderson AP

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 7:01 pm

A new surge of Syrian refugees is swamping humanitarian aid agencies in southern Turkey, where official refugee camps are full.

But the newcomers may be just the tip of the iceberg. In central Syria, civilians under attack by combat jets, tanks and artillery have fled towns and villages north of the city of Hama, and thousands are on the move.

"What they do now, they burn everything ahead of them. They bomb this area with everything they've got," says Hossan Hamadah, a Syrian-American from Texas.

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Middle East
12:57 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Tracking Rape In Syria Through Social Media

Syrian women walk through a market area in the northern city of Aleppo last November. A new website is documenting the use of rape in the Syrian conflict.
John Cantlie AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 6:17 pm

Rape has long been a weapon of war, but documenting sexual violence usually happens after a conflict is over. Researchers are taking a new path with the Syrian conflict: tracking the incidents of rape as they occur.

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Middle East
10:54 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Syria's War Leaves Its Scars On The Children

Maysam Selmo, 8, during her first week at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children in Antakya, Turkey. She and her extended family fled their village in northwestern Syria, and now live in a crowded apartment.
Jodi Hilton for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:57 pm

The war in Syria is taking a huge toll on the children. An international team of researchers that interviewed Syrian kids in a refugee camp in Turkey found that 3 out of 4 have lost a loved one. Almost half have post-traumatic stress disorder and elevated levels of depression.

There are efforts to help, but it's challenging. In the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, the bell rings at 8 a.m. at the Friendship Elementary School. Syrian kids, in fresh school uniforms, cram into desks, with more than 40 students in every classroom.

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The Two-Way
12:18 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Amid Food Shortages, Syrian Opposition Now Runs Many Towns

A Syrian woman carries a ration of bread on her head in the northern city of Aleppo. The Syrian opposition now runs local councils in many cities, particularly in the north. They often face major challenges in providing basics likes food, water and electricity.
Odd Anderson AFP/Getty Images

As the Syrian opposition gains control of large swaths of territory in the country's north, local councils are emerging as the first alternative authority after 21 months of revolt.

It is still unclear if the civilian councils can impose order in war-torn areas where rebels have the power of arms. And at least parts of major cities remain in the hands of President Bashar Assad's forces.

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Middle East
3:14 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

U.S. Doctors Provide Supplies, Training To Syrians

Dr. Mazen Kewara, an American vascular surgeon, trains Syrian doctors during a workshop in Antakya,Turkey.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 7:34 pm

Syria's health care system is collapsing after 21 months of revolt. According to a new report by the World Health Organization, half of the country's public hospitals have been destroyed in the fighting.

Pharmacies are running out of medicine for even the most basic care. In rebel-controlled areas, field clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed. A group of Syrian-American doctors has stepped in to help, bringing in crucial supplies and providing training.

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Middle East
1:33 am
Thu December 6, 2012

'It's A Disaster': Life Inside A Syrian Refugee Camp

Mothers and their children sit among their washing in a refugee camp on the border between Syria and Turkey near the northern city of Azaz on Wednesday. The internally displaced faced further misery as heavy rain was followed by a drop in temperatures.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 8:20 pm

It's early afternoon when the sun is bright, and it's finally warm enough to come outside. This tent camp on a hill overlooking the Turkish border, near the Syrian town of Atma, houses more than 14,000 displaced Syrians.

The water here is trucked in, and it's the only source. Women line up with plastic jugs to haul the daily delivery back to the tents. What is striking are the children — in dirty clothes and summer shoes, faces red and raw from the cold.

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World
4:01 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

U.S. Steps Up Aid (But No Arms) To Syrian Exiles

Rajiv Shah (left), the head of USAID, speaks with children during a visit at the Oncupinar Syrian refugee camp in Turkey, near the Syrian border, on Nov. 27.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 5:12 pm

The Obama administration remains wary about arming Syria's rebels. But when it comes to humanitarian aid, the U.S. contribution, over $250 million, is second only to Turkey.

Then there is non-lethal aid, an additional $50 million for communication equipment and training courses.

If you are surprised by the numbers, so are Syrian activists, who say American support is still almost invisible on the ground. Now, U.S. officials are highlighting the American aid profile.

High-Profile Visit

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The Two-Way
9:04 am
Mon December 3, 2012

A Syrian Tank Shells Turkey, Yet The Response Is Silence. Why?

Turkish soldiers stand guard in the town of Akcakale, just across the border from Syria, on Oct. 4. The Turks have often issued stern warnings and retaliated when shooting from the Syrian war has come across their border. But Turkey did not respond to an incident over the weekend.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:28 am

Whenever the Syrian military fires across the border into Turkey, it threatens to ignite a major confrontation.

But sometimes the Turks choose to play down cross-border attacks on their territory, and an episode Saturday shows how complicated these shootings can be in a war that continues to evolve.

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Middle East
3:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Damascus Remains Cut Off By Fighting

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 5:05 am

For a second day, the Syrian capital, Damascus is cut off from the outside world, with the international airport shut, the Internet down and mobile phone lines working sporadically. There are reports of fierce clashes around the capital and heavy airstrikes in the capital's suburbs and in the northern city of Aleppo.

Middle East
5:48 am
Wed November 28, 2012

In Syria, Aleppo Today Is Must-See TV For Survival

Aleppo Today broadcasts are simple but relay crucial information — from tank movements to Internet connectivity — to the people who remain in the embattled northern Syrian town. It relies on a network of 70 correspondents to provide a 24-hour news stream.
Aleppo Today

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 10:42 am

Every day, dozens of Syrians are killed and wounded in Aleppo, Syria's financial capital. Since July, President Bashar Assad's loyalists have mounted a relentless military campaign to dislodge rebels fighting for control of the northern city. Neither side can afford to lose.

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Middle East
4:03 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Syrian Rebels Plan Free Election

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 5:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Some Syrians - now in the midst of a civil war - are about to take a step toward governing themselves.

INSKEEP: In recent days, Syrian rebels captured an air base near the capital. Government jets continue flying from other bases.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Mon November 26, 2012

In One Corner Of Syria, A Rebel Victory Results In Friction

A Syrian rebel fighter is shown in the northeastern Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn on Nov. 11, several days after the rebels captured it. The rebel takeover has created friction with the town's Kurdish population.
Murad Seezer Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 4:49 pm

When Syrian rebels seized the border post at Ras al-Ayn on Nov. 8, they celebrated the victory and went on to "liberate" the town, a place where both Arabs and Kurds live on Syria's northeast border with Turkey.

But the Kurdish inhabitants quickly saw their "liberation" as a disaster. Within days, dozens were dead in clashes between Kurdish militias and the rebels.

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The Two-Way
10:39 am
Tue November 20, 2012

In Syria, An Act Of Reconciliation Stirs Fierce Debate

Supporters of President Bashar Assad speak with U.N. monitors who were arriving in the town in May. The monitors have since left.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 11:41 am

After 20 months of violence in Syria, acts of reconciliation are scarce.

When one took place earlier this month in the town of Tel Kalakh, near the border with Lebanon, it touched off a fierce debate.

The man at the center is Ahmad Munir Muhammed, the governor of Homs, who has long been known as a loyalist of embattled President Bashar Assad.

However, Muhammed made an official visit to Tel Kalakh, where the majority of neighborhoods are controlled by the rebels.

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The Two-Way
9:45 am
Thu November 15, 2012

New Syrian Opposition Group Gets Thumbs-Up From Facebook Users

Moaz al-Khatib, a Muslim cleric, is the leader of the newly formed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition. The opposition is working to build support inside Syria through Facebook and other social media.
Karim Jaafar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 11:02 am

Facebook is the bulletin board for the Syrian revolt.

When a newly formed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, got some 18,000 "likes" within 48 hours, it was a sign that support is building for a group formed Sunday after a week of negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

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Middle East
12:32 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

U.S. Presses Fractured Syrian Opposition To Unite

A Syrian rebel fighter takes aim at government forces from an apartment in the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday. While the fighting rages, the Syrian opposition is holding talks in Qatar in an attempt to create a new, more unified front. The U.S. announced last week that it favors an overhaul of the opposition leadership.
Philippe Desmazes AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 1:27 pm

Could a united Syrian opposition be the game changer that finally topples President Bashar Assad, after almost 20 months of revolt and more than 30,000 dead?

"You need a game changer, either military or political, and hope it will break the stalemate," says Amr Azm, a Syrian-born professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio.

The Obama administration appears to embrace this view, and last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the surprise announcement that the U.S. backed a plan to overhaul the Syrian opposition.

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Middle East
10:21 am
Sun October 14, 2012

A Defection Hints At Cracks Among Syria's Alawites

In a new YouTube video, a Syrian colonel defects from the army, denounces President Bashar Assad and publicly joins the rebels of the Free Syrian Army.

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Middle East
1:27 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Syrian-American Doctors Head To The Battle Zone

Local Syrian doctors prepare to treat a patient in a field hospital in Aldana, Syria, near the Turkish border. Each day, local and expatriate doctors take big risks to treat the wounded in rebel-held areas.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 6:21 pm

As Syrian war planes bomb towns and villages held by anti-government rebels, a group of Syrian-American doctors is quietly providing medical aid inside Syria.

The Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, has a long track record of supporting health care in Syria.

But as Syria's 18-month revolt has grown more lethal, these Syrian-American doctors have sided with the revolution and undertaken risky work delivering medicines and volunteering in field hospitals.

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Middle East
8:20 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Syrian Rebels Fear Radicals May Hijack Revolt

Syrian rebels pose after seizing control of the Bab al-Hawa border post on the Syrian-Turkey border on July 20. Now, the rebels are facing a new challenge: radical Islamists, who they say do not represent them.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 6:09 pm

Homegrown rebels have done most of the fighting against the Syrian government troops. But Islamist militants from abroad, including some with links to al-Qaida, are now joining the fight against the government in growing numbers.

The local rebels are not pleased with this development, and there is growing tension between the groups that share a desire to oust President Bashar Assad but little else.

Until a few weeks ago, the border crossing at Bab al-Hawa on Syria's northern frontier with Turkey was the site of a training camp for a militant Islamist group.

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Middle East
11:39 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Syrian Activists Take On New And Riskier Roles

Rebel fighters take up position near the military airport outside the rebel-held town of Azaz in northern Syria on Aug. 21. In rebel-held towns like Azaz, activists are taking on new, risky roles as the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad continues.
Youssef Boudlal Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 5:58 pm

On a recent day in the northern Syrian town of Azaz, there's an edgy energy when a pickup truck armed with a heavy machine gun screeches to a halt.

Wild-eyed and high-flving, the young rebels in the truck are happy to be alive after they hit a government helicopter landing at an air base 8 miles outside Azaz.

This rebel-held town is under nightly attack. This lightly armed rebel crew races out to the air base every day to target regime aircraft from hidden sites in the olive groves.

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Middle East
1:48 am
Wed September 5, 2012

A Syrian Village Is Oasis Of Calm Amid Conflict

Dr. Mahmoud Hasson, a specialist in internal medicine, runs a new hospital in the Syrian village of Kfar Ghan, a protected area along the border with Turkey. The Turkish government warned that any Syrian military aircraft near the border would be a target.
Deborah Amos NPR

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:58 am

Driving into Kfar Ghan, you notice the difference right away: The shops are open, there are kids on the street, there's even a row of open-air vegetable stalls and a crowd of shoppers.

There is a full spread of watermelon, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. All the farmers from the area have brought their produce to the market in this Syrian village, about a mile from the Turkish border.

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Middle East
9:58 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Syrian Rebel Leader Keeps Order On The Border

Syrian rebels captured the Bab al-Salam crossing on the border with Turkey in July. Large numbers of refugees fleeing northern Syria for Turkey come to the crossing, which is orderly and well-run, at least for now.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 6:32 am

The Bab al-Salam border crossing, on Syria's northern border with Turkey, has settled into an orderly routine.

Back in July, rebel brigades wrested this border post in Syria's strategic Aleppo province from President Bashar Assad's army in a fierce battle. Now, passports are stamped and cars inspected by the rebels — polite, young, bearded men who wear mismatched military uniforms or civilian clothes.

While the military confrontation was a joint operation, bringing together many rebel brigades, the Northern Storm brigade retains exclusive control of the border post.

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Middle East
2:53 pm
Mon September 3, 2012

Under The Shadow Of Jets, A Syrian Town Presses On

Syrians gather by the rubble of a house destroyed by shelling in the northern town of Azaz, on the outskirts of Aleppo, on Monday.
Muhammed Muheisen AP

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 2:12 am

Syrian air force jets bombed the rebel-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least 18 people, according to Syrian activists.

Over the summer, the rebels gained control of a number of towns and villages along the Syrian-Turkish border. Now, those places are being bombarded from the air and from the ground by government forces.

Azaz, in northern Syria's Aleppo province, is one of these places. There, the tombstones in the old section of the town's cemetery are laid out in neat rows.

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Middle East
1:25 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Relentless Attacks Send Syrians Fleeing For Relief

Syrians take refuge Thursday at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing near the Syrian town of Azaz, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey.
Muhammed Muheisen AP

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 10:48 am

Syria's president has vowed to crush the rebels by any means; his air force has not spared the towns and villages that support rebel brigades. In August, the death toll often topped 250 a day, according to Syrian activists. The fighting between troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebel forces has also sparked a refugee crisis for Syria's neighbors as thousands flee to the borders.

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Middle East
1:28 am
Mon August 27, 2012

In Distressed Syria, Urban And Rural Cultures At Odds

Syrian children, who fled their home with their family, take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey on Sunday.
Muhammed Muheisen AP

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 9:31 pm

After a month-long offensive in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, rebels are struggling under a fierce counter offensive by the Syrian military and the outcome is far from clear. But the future of Aleppo, the country's financial hub, is already under discussion in secret meetings on the Turkish border.

Over cups of sweat tea in a Turkish border hotel, Moeihmen Abdul Rahman, a lawyer from Aleppo, sits down for his first meeting with Abu Riad, a commander from the Al Tawheed brigade, a coalition of rebel militias leading the assault on Aleppo.

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Middle East
3:32 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

As Fighting Rages, A Prisoner Swap In Syria

The daily fighting in Syria included this gun battle Wednesday involving rebels in the northern city of Aleppo. Still, the rival sides recently worked out a prisoner swap in which two women were freed from state custody, while the rebels released seven pro-government fighters.
James Lawler Duggan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 5:59 pm

The bitter fighting in Syria seems to grow worse by the day, yet the rebels and the government do occasionally manage to work out something that requires each side to trust the other: prisoner swaps.

In one recent exchange, two women held by the government were freed in exchange for seven men who were fighting on behalf President Bashar Assad's regime.

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The Two-Way
10:41 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Walking Into Syria: A Reporter's Visit To Where Rebels Are 'Running The Show'

Syrians fleeing increased violence arriving last week at the border between the Syrian town of Azaz and the neighboring Turkish town of Kilis.
Phil Moore AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 11:02 am

Getting into Syria has been a journalistic obsession since anti-regime protests began there in March 2011. The choices have been risky or next to impossible. The Syrian regime has given out few journalists' visas (full disclosure, I got a legal visa to Syria in June).

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