Frontline reporting from Aleppo in Syria

The BGAN is usually an essential tool for the frontline reporter but that’s not always the case in Syria.

“One of the huge difficulties in Syria is that many of the rebels won't let us use our normal equipment such as the BGAN or satphone,” said Rasmus Tantholdt, a correspondent for Denmark's TV2. “Normally we would use our BGAN to get our reports back home. But in Syria we were not allowed to do that. When you meet the insurgents they will tell you the guidelines for staying with them and one of the guidelines is 'Don't use satellite phones and don't use the BGAN'.”

The reason for the rebels’ rule is their suspicion that the Syrian government forces can pinpoint the location of an active BGAN terminal and then target it.

Rasmus recently returned from a trip to Aleppo, a city that has suffered prolonged fighting. The ban on using a BGAN meant he could only transmit from the Turkish border.

He said, “We went in from the Turkish side in the morning which took 3 or 4 hours because many of the roads are blocked by the Syrian army so we had to take a very long route to get there. And then we would arrive in Aleppo, do our filming and in the evening we would normally go back to Turkey. On some days we would stay overnight with the rebels inside Aleppo. But that's not very recommendable because they’re a target and it's dangerous. So most of the time we went in and out everyday.”

In the ten years he has been covering conflicts, Syria is the most dangerous. He explained, “During the past nine or 10 years you've seen wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, the war against Hezbollah by Israel and I've been to all those places but when covering, for instance, the conflict in Iraq, we were typically with American, Danish or Iraqi soldiers at the frontline. So we were always on the winning side; we were with the guys who had all the artillery but in Syria we are not; we are the ones with the SFA, the Syrian Free Army, who are being bombed by fighter jets and being hit by heavy artillery. So that is new compared to the other conflicts I have covered.”
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