Bassam Khabieh

Bassam Khabieh

Damascus, Syria
Damascus, Syria
“Watch your step when you cover dangerous stories. No pictures are more important than your life.”


War, humanitarian crisis.

One Shot

. Damascus, Syria. Reuters/Bassam Khabieh
Residents carry an injured man out from the debris at a site hit by what activists claim were at least five air strikes by forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus.
“After an airstrike on my neighbourhood, I ran to see the damage and check on my friends. People were shouting that there was an old man under the debris. They started removing the rubble with their hands. Then we heard his voice - he was alive. When they reached him it was a great moment, saving a human soul from death.”


My passion for photography began as a hobby, collecting photographs from online articles that I used to read during my work as an IT administrator. I collected more than 10,000 news photos from around the world, with the hope and belief that one day I would take pictures like these. My visual memory stored away a lot of events based on this huge photo collection.

After the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, my first steps in photography were to document events using my mobile phone as an amateur video/photographer.

However events took a dramatic turn and I started to learn more about photography from the Internet and by looking at professionals’ work. I learned that the images you take must meet the highest standards of photojournalism in order to transmit a clear message to the world.

I started working as an independent photographer in Douma and the Damascus suburbs in 2011, covering demonstrations and funerals; but I consider my first official assignment was to cover the chemical attack in the Eastern Ghouta near Damascus in August 2013. I woke up that morning, and headed towards medical points to see tens of dead bodies.

I saw a little baby among them. When I approached her there was no blood or injuries, she looked like she was sleeping among dead bodies. I took pictures of her and left for the sites bombed by the chemical attack. It was a horrible moment entering deserted neighborhoods where many residents had been killed by chemical weapons. I saw cats and dogs too, laying on the ground, and dead sheep in farms. I saw and smelt the stench of death.

Covering “A field hospital in Douma” left a huge impact on me. While I was working on this assignment, airstrikes caused lot of death in my city. I saw many people with lost limbs and eyes, children and women among them. The loud cries of pain from the wounded rang in my ears at night. I frequently visited medical facilities and every time I saw the patients, I could do nothing but pray for them.

I respect photographers who care about the people they photograph. You need to be connected with people when you are working with them and care about their feelings. The camera is too harmful in the wrong hands.