About Us

Syria Direct is a non-profit journalism organization that produces timely, credible coverage of Syria while training highly talented, aspiring Syrian and American journalists in professional news-gathering and accurate, in-depth reporting.

Founded in 2013, Syria Direct publishes original news reports, interviews with newsmakers and newsworthy photographs and videos from Syria along with newsletters.

Our reporters cover key military developments and track the country’s shifting politics, province by province, to explain news as it unfolds, placing a particular focus on the individuals driving events on the ground.

Throughout the editorial process, we emphasize the tenets of professional journalism, from identifying sources and checking facts to providing balanced, well-rounded reporting on contentious issues.

Our commitment is to use the highest journalistic standards for Syrians to report on their own country, to influence the wider news agenda and inculcate principles of independent, critical thinking with integrity in our reporters.

As a result of agenda-free funding, our focus is on providing credible, original, relevant and immediate news and analysis of Syria. 

 

Staff

Kristen Demilio, Editor-in-Chief

Kristen Gillespie Demilio has more than 10 years of experience reporting from the Middle East while based in Amman. She regularly contributed to news outlets including CBS News Radio, NPR, The Jerusalem Report and PBS. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism as well as the Institute Français des Etudes Arabes in Damascus. 

Justin Schuster, Managing Director

Justin Schuster graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Affairs and Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He was a 2015-2016 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan and previously worked with Syria Direct as a reporter and translator. 

Noura Hourani, Managing Arabic Editor

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and worked as an English language instructor in Syria. She has participated in a number of seminars on civil society development and received a certificate in data journalism for human right reporting from the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) in Amman. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015. 

Maria Nelson, Associate English Editor

Maria Nelson was a 2014-2015 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan. Maria received a BA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, with a certificate in Arabic Language and Culture.

Ammar Hamou, Senior Reporter

Ammar Hamou is from the city of Douma in the East Ghouta suburbs of Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and previously worked at a publishing house in Jordan. He has participating in seminars in Jordan and Spain on the development of social values, responsibility and citizenry in Syria. Ammar also works as an editor for The Syrian Voice. 

Waleed Khaled a-Noufal, Reporter

Waleed a-Noufal was born in Inkhil in northern Daraa province. Waleed worked as an activist for his local city council and the Umayya Media Center. In 2013, he moved to Jordan and finished his high school degree. Waleed wants to bring about a solution to the current crisis through his reporting. 

Alaa Nassar, Reporter

Alaa Nassar was forced to flee Damascus with her family because of pressure from the Syrian regime in 2013. She was unable to finish her education in Jordan due to financial challenges. She came to Syria Direct to find a new direction in her life. 

Mohammed Al-Haj Ali, Reporter

Mohammed, originally from Daraa, completed his first year studying broadcast journalism at Damascus University before leaving Syria in August 2012. He spent a year and a half working in public relations for a Syrian news channel and a Syrian radio station in Amman before joining Syria Direct. He hopes for a future civil Syria welcome to everyone, regardless of religion. 

Bahira al-Zarier, Reporter

Bahira is from Damascus. She studied business and marketing before moving to Jordan in 2013. She did volunteer work in support of many refugee organizations before joining Syria Direct. 

Mohammad Abdulssattar Ibrahim, Reporter

Mohammad is from Amouda in Al-Hasakah province. He moved to Jordan in 2004. He previously worked with the Syrian Revolution LLC in Amman, reporting and coordinating protests. He then did volunteer work with refugees living in Amman.

Sama Mohammed, Translator/Reporter

Sama is from Daraa province. She received her bachelor’s degree in literature in 2011 and taught English in Sheikh Miskeen. In 2013, she moved to Jordan and worked as a freelance translator before joining Syria Direct.

Batool Hajjar, Translator

Batool is from Latakia. She studied English literature for two years in Syria before moving to Jordan at the end of 2012. She holds a certificate in conflict resolution, civil society building and transitional justice from George Mason University. Batool is currently studying for her bachelor’s degree in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She hopes to return to her country after finishing her studies to help rebuild a united and democratic Syria.

Tariq Adely, Reporter/Translator

Tariq Adely graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a BA in Comparative Literature and Translation. He continued his studies at the Qasid Institute and the Institute from Critical Thought in Amman.

 

Madeline Edwards, Reporter/Translator

Madeline Edwards graduated from the College of Charleston with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science in 2016. She was a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) recipient in Arabic in 2013. 

 

Justin Clark, Reporter/Translator

Justin studied Arabic at Western Michigan University. He continued his studies at Bethlehem University in the West Bank and the Qasid Institute in Jordan. Justin’s work and studies have brought him to Jordan, the West Bank, Egypt and Greece. 

 

Avery Edelman, Reporter/Translator

Avery Edelman graduated from Tufts University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic and international relations.

 

Syria Direct Training Program: Fall 2017

Faten Zoubi

Born in Daraa in 1993, Faten started to study pharmacy at the Arab International University in Syria. In 2013, she moved to Jordan because of the ongoing war in her country. In Amman, Faten finished her university studies and received a degree in pharmacology from Al-Ahliyya Amman University. She has volunteered for a number of relief organizations that assist Syrian refugees in Jordan. She strives to expand her knowledge of journalism and acquire new expertise that will enable her show the whole world what is happening in Syria.

Maha Mohammad

Born in Daraa in 1992, Maha received her master’s degree in human rights and civil society from Damascus University. She is currently working in media, investigating social welfare for refugees. Maha moved to Jordan in 2013 and has volunteered for different humanitarian organizations in Amman. Through her involvement with Syria Direct, she seeks to develop her media skills in order to complement her humanitarian activities.

Ala'a Mekawe

Born in Homs province in 1999, Ala'a studies computer programming at a German university through an online program. She left for Jordan in 2013 due to the war. Her love for reading and writing pushed her towards journalism. Ala'a decided to join Syria Direct to shed light on issues that are important to Syrians and publish reports on current events in Syria.

Kafa Al-Faisal

Born in the Daraa countryside in 1995, Kafa was studying history at Damascus University but could not complete her degree as she left for Jordan in 2012 due to the war. She has volunteered for several international relief organizations that provide assistance for Syrian refugees in Jordan. She joins Syria Direct with the aim of developing her journalism skills and finding a new way forward in life.

Omar Al-Balkhi

Born in Daraa province in 1986, Omar left for Jordan in 2013 after being wounded while working as a media activist in Daraa. He graduated from Damascus University in 2011 with a degree in history. Through Syria Direct’s training program, Omar seeks to learn about the ethics of journalism, the role of the journalist and the professional obligations that come with the line of work.

Mohammad Al-Musalma

Born in Daraa in 1995, Mohammad holds a degree in multimedia. Back in Daraa province, he worked as an activist for a number of media institutions. He then moved to Jordan in the middle of 2014. With an interest in photography and film production, Mohammad continued working in media, photographing and documenting life in the Syrian refugee camps of Jordan. Through Syria Direct’s training program, he hopes to spread the truth about Syria without dramatization or bias and to convey the Syrian reality to Arab and Western societies with full transparency and objectivity.

Omar Al-Drawi

Born in Daraa in 1991, Omar did not finish his university studies as a result of the war. In 2013, he left for Jordan. He joined the team at Syria Direct to develop his journalism skills in order to inform the world about the horrors of the ongoing war in his country and to spare civilians from the ravages of conflict.

Baraa Talal Saad Ad-Din

Baraa was born in 1990 in the Lajat region, northeast of Syria’s southern Suwayda province. She moved to Jordan in 2012 because of the ongoing events in her country. She studied journalism and media at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. Through Syria Direct, she aims to develop her skills with the goal of highlighting important issues to serve her people. 

Baseel Al-Horane

Born in Daraa in 1993, Baseel finished his secondary education in Syria but could not complete his studies due to the war. He left Syria at the beginning of 2013. In Jordan, he has volunteered for media outlets covering the suffering of Syrian refugees in the country. Baseel sees journalism and media to be a means of addressing important humanitarian issues and shedding light on the suffering of the Syrian people. He joined Syria Direct to hone his journalistic expertise, acquiring new skills and having new experiences.

Asma'a Al-Jabar

Born in Damascus in 1989, Asma'a has been living between Jordan and Syria for the past several years. She studied English and translation at Amman Arab University and has a degree in social work from German Jordanian University. Asma'a has volunteered at several international organizations which assist Syrian refugees in Jordan by providing education and psychological support, among other services.

Hamza Al-Homsi

Hamza, born in Homs in 1996, holds a degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Al-Quds College. He is currently in the second year of an online journalism program with Amity University. Hamza joined Syria Direct in order to gain experience in his field of study and to convey the current humanitarian situation in Syria. 

 

Ahmed Rahal

Ahmed, born in Homs in 1993, could not complete his degree in agricultural engineering due to the war in his country. He reports on refugee issues and rights for the news site Refugees without Borders. He decided to join Syria Direct in order to develop his journalism skills and find a new path in life.

 

Our Partners: 

Syria Direct does not accept advertising. Syria Direct’s newsroom operations are funded by the Global Peace & Development Charitable Trust.

Alongside our news coverage, Syria Direct conducts periodic training sessions for 12 Syrian journalist trainees at a time. Past training sessions have received support from the US Embassy Amman's Public Affairs Section, the Syria office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organization and the Canadian Embassy in Amman. 

The Aspen Institute announced in July 2017 that Syria Direct is one of four finalists for the prestigious McNulty Prize, which "celebrates the boldness and impact of individuals who are using their exceptional leadership abilities...to address the world’s toughest challenges." The winner will be announced in November.