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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1:19pm

Mon November 5, 2012
Middle East

U.S. Presses Fractured Syrian Opposition To Unite

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

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

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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10:21am

Sun October 14, 2012
Middle East

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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1:27am

Mon October 1, 2012
Middle East

Syrian-American Doctors Head To The Battle Zone

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

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

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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8:20am

Wed September 19, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Rebels Fear Radicals May Hijack Revolt

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

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

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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11:39am

Mon September 10, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Activists Take On New And Riskier Roles

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

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

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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1:22am

Wed September 5, 2012
Middle East

A Syrian Village Is Oasis Of Calm Amid Conflict

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

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

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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9:38am

Tue September 4, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Rebel Leader Keeps Order On The Border

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

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

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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2:53pm

Mon September 3, 2012
Middle East

Under The Shadow Of Jets, A Syrian Town Presses On

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

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

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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1:25am

Fri August 31, 2012
Middle East

Relentless Attacks Send Syrians Fleeing For Relief

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

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

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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1:28am

Mon August 27, 2012
Middle East

In Distressed Syria, Urban And Rural Cultures At Odds

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

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

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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3:32pm

Wed August 22, 2012
Middle East

As Fighting Rages, A Prisoner Swap In Syria

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

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

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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11:02am

Mon August 20, 2012
The Two-Way

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

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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5:35am

Sat July 21, 2012
Middle East

In Syria, An Urgent Effort To Organize Rebels

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 7:47 pm

Members of the group Hamza Abdualmuttalib trained this week near the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

The battle for Syria appears to have reached a decisive stage. Tanks are on the streets of Damascus as civilians flee the city, and rebels have seized outposts on the borders with Turkey and Iraq.

The opposition has shown a surprising military capability over the past few days. As fighting intensifies in the Syrian capital, there's an urgent push under way to organize the rebel force.

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2:39pm

Mon July 16, 2012
Middle East

A Syrian Defector Confronts A Sectarian Divide

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 6:16 pm

Syria's ongoing fighting is increasingly a sectarian conflict with the majority Sunni Muslims facing off against the Alawites who make up most of the country's ruling elite. Here, government opponents rally in the northern town of Mareh on June 29.
Vedat Xhymshit AFP/Getty Images

The violence in Syria is increasingly being called a civil war, and it can also be called a sectarian war, because much of the fighting pits the majority Sunni Muslims against the minority Alawites who make up much of the country's leadership.

Yet not everyone fits neatly into a category. There are some Alawites who have joined the uprising.

One 30-year-old Alawite man, who doesn't want his name revealed, is nervous as he lights another cigarette and tells the story of how he came to side with the opposition and turned his back on the Alawite rulers.

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1:09am

Thu July 12, 2012
Middle East

For Syrian-American Doctors, A Painful Homecoming

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 6:30 pm

Dr. Yahya Abdul Rahim (left) and Dr. Ammar Ghanem are among the Syrian-American doctors who have come to the Turkish-Syrian border to help Syrians wounded in the anti-government revolt. Some work to improve the flow of supplies; others treat patients in Turkey; still others, like Ghanem, strap backpacks on and walk across the border to help those in Syria.
Deborah Amos NPR

The Turkish border is a key link for the revolt in neighboring Syria. Turkish ambulances are stationed at border crossings to cope with the flood of injured Syrians, often as many as 30 a day. And now, Syrian-American doctors are volunteering in a humanitarian effort to help the wounded and to bring crucial medicines for field hospitals inside Syria.

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1:57pm

Tue July 10, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Rebels Carve Buffer Zone Near Turkish Border

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 5:34 pm

More than 35,000 Syrians have sought shelter in Turkey. Most of the refugees at the Kilis refugee camp in southern Turkey are women and children.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

At this isolated part of the Turkish border, there's just one Turkish guard, a fence and, beyond an olive grove, Syria.

The Syrian side is just a short walk, perhaps 10 minutes. The area looks completely calm and there is no sign of the Syrian military.

Abu Amar, a rebel who has fought in Syria for five weeks, walked across this field from the Syrian village of Atma, which is now serving as a rebel headquarters. He says much of the northwestern province of Idlib is now controlled by the rebels, and it has become easy to move back and forth between Syria and Turkey here.

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1:01am

Mon July 9, 2012
Middle East

Across Continents, Syrian Family Seeks Assad's Ouster

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 3:28 am

Syrian activist Karam Nachar is pursuing a doctorate in Middle Eastern history at Princeton. His family is working on several fronts against the Syrian regime. His father, who has been jailed previously, helped form the Syrian National Council, an organization of dissidents.
Ozier Muhammad The New York Times

The Nachar family has long been on the radar of the Syrian government, and since last year, they have become even more visible.

When Syrians first started openly protesting inside the country in the spring of 2011, 29-year-old Syrian Karam Nachar was working on his doctorate in Middle East history at Princeton University. He joined demonstrations outside U.N. headquarters in New York.

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1:17am

Thu June 28, 2012
Middle East

In A Syrian Souk, Support For The Regime Falters

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 6:25 pm

People walk through Hamidiyah market in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 28. The merchants of this landmark bazaar were once ardent supporters of President Bashar Assad. That's no longer the case.
Bassem Tellawi AP

In Syria's capital, Damascus, the Hamidiyah souk is a landmark — a centuries-old covered market linked to a maze of alleyways in the heart of the capital. Over the 15-month uprising, Syria's merchants have supported the regime of President Bashar Assad. But that support is crumbling.

Shops selling everything from cold drinks, ice cream and spices to wedding dresses and electric guitars line Hamidiyah's cobblestone streets.

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11:53am

Tue June 26, 2012
Middle East

Syrian Youth Lead Rebellion, And Teach Their Elders

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 7:06 pm

A Syrian youth flashes the victory sign as he stands in front of a building that was covered with anti-government graffiti — though local authorities painted over it — in the town of Duma, outside Damascus, in February.
AFP/Getty Images

The uprising in Syria began in the spring of 2011 when rebellious teenagers scrawled anti-regime graffiti on a wall in the southern city of Daraa.

The protest against their arrest, and the regime's brutal response, sparked the wider revolt. Throughout the unrest, the country's younger generation has been at the forefront of efforts to end the repressive regime of President Bashar Assad.

At a cafe in the heart of Damascus recently, a young man flips open his cellphone to show pictures of people killed in the uprising.

"Actually, they are my friends," he says.

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4:10am

Sun June 24, 2012
Middle East

Syrians Now Willing To Talk, But No Names, Please

President Bashar Assad addresses Parliament on June 3. Syrians in the capital, Damascus, have become more willing to speak out, though they still don't want to be identified by name. Many feel the Assad regime is losing control of parts of the country.
Anonymous SANA/AP

In Damascus, Syrians now openly speak their minds, but often won't offer a name for the record.

The "wall of fear" is crumbling even in the capital, where the security police have the heaviest presence. Syrians have lived under surveillance and emergency law for years, but after 15 months of anti-government protest and a brutal response by the regime, the killings have changed people.

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