As ever with fast-moving events that I cover for the Daily Beast, I’ve been tardy in updating my blog. Nevertheless below are links to some pieces on the Algerian hostage siege. The two most interesting, I think, are pieces I wrote with Mike Giglio and Eli Lake. The first (with Mike) examines the growth of the Jihadist movement and how the collapse of the security systems of the previous regimes has been exploited. The second (with Eli) was an exclusive and throws up some history on the veteran Jihadist who masterminded the raid on the natural gas facility in Algeria. It suggests at one time he was an asset of Algerian intelligence.
Here are some photographs from my December trip into the rebel enclave of Aleppo province in northern Syria. The first picture is the room I slept in. The stove was being fed by crude oil and as a result stopped functioning: so we had some pretty cold nights.
In the rebel-controlled town of Tal Rifat locals resorted to chopping up mature olive trees for firewood.
No gas stations, of course. The only way to fill up was from dealers using small tanks. Fuel is rationed by FSA rebels.
In December rebels — with Jihadists in the vanguard — managed after several days of fighting to capture a sprawling army base and infantry school just to the north of Aleppo city. The rebels wasted no time in defacing murals of the Assads, spraying new colors at the entrance and hauling away seized ammunition and weapons.
In Aleppo city and in rebel towns around medical facilities are in short supply. They are targeted by Assad’s warplanes. This building housed before it was destroyed by an air strike an emergency medical clinic.