The men who today document the images of war-torn Syria for AFP came from all walks of pre-war life. Delil Souleiman was interested in art and sculpture, Abd Doumany was studying dentistry, Sameer al-Doumy was dreaming of being a doctor. Today, with their colleagues, they produce stunning, heartbreaking photographs of the destruction wreaked upon their home -- images of bloodied children, of piles of rubble that were once homes, of suffering and pain. These images have shown the outside world what war looks like, they have won them awards and recognition. But these aren’t the images they treasure.
"Photographers who document wars in their own countries, be they in Chechnya at the start of the century or in Syria today, often say the same thing. Their best-known images -- the heartbreak and destruction of their homelands -- are not the ones of which they are the most proud.
"The images they cherish are those of 'ordinary' life -- stolen moments of normality in their shattered lands. These pictures are at once illusion and defiance. Illusion, because they offer a chance to forget the death and killing all around them, even for just a few moments. Defiance, because they offer a chance to show the world that there is joy and happiness, even in a place where hope is as scarce as it is in today’s Syria."