Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Barbed wire rings a recently discovered interior security outpost, where documents containing the names of government-paid informants littered the ground.

A man prays on the corniche in the rebel stronghold on March 25.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A goat carcass serves as a grim message for Kadafi loyalists retreating March 21 after Western forces launched airstrikes.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Rebel volunteers pray before taking part in a battle for nearby Port Brega.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A rebel fighter carries a rifle to the front line near Port Brega on April 1.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Hospital workers put a slain rebel fighter into a body bag on March 21.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A rebel fighter lounges by the side of the road on March 22.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Rebel fighters retreat to Port Brega after suffering a defeat at the hands of Moammar Kadafi's forces on March 10.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Flag-waving youths cast shadows on a graffitti-covered wall in the rebel stronghold on March 24.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Rebel fighters goof off at the front line near Port Brega on April Fools Day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Two men use ropes to secure posters of "martyrs" outside the courthouse.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A rebel fighter pauses to pray in a bullet-riddled cafe as opposition forces moved westward towards Surt, Kadafi's hometown on March 27.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Children play on a muddy street in the city, where inadequate infrastructure, a broken education system and the lack of basic healthcare services are indicators of years of neglect by the Kadafi regime.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Recruits young and old learn at a training center on March 3.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The victory sign and the Kalashnikov, seen March 10, have become powerful symbols of the Libyan rebellion.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Protesters gather outside the courthouse on Feb. 24, soon after nationwide unrest erupted against Kadafi's rule.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Children shout their support for the Libyan uprising on April 3.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A rebel fighter walks to the front line in Port Brega on March 12.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A stop in the ancient ruins of Cyrene on the way out of Libya on April 3.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Smoke obscures a burned tank on the eastern outskirts of the city on March 27.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

An African refugee walks across a trash-strewn field in the no man's land between Libya and Egypt on April 4.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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Libya in the rear view mirror for photographer

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Libya in the rear view mirror for photographer

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Libya in the rear view mirror for photographer

By Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times

The rain came down when I arrived in Benghazi 41 days ago, and as I sped out of town Sunday morning it was appropriately raw and rainy again. I was dead tired, pulled a cap down over my eyes and immediately fell asleep.

The car hummed at high speed and I dreamed about my seventieth birthday. My kids had grown up, but there were a lot of little ones running around our 90-year-old house — and I was happy.

“This is the best part of Libya — 100%,” Ali, the driver, blurted out, jarring me awake. Through the window, I saw rolling green hills, verdant wheat fields in spring and fruit orchards covered with purple blooms. What a difference an hour makes.

The desert of death fell farther behind, and only the armed rebels at the occasional checkpoint reminded me of the war. Ali accelerated to 100 miles per hour, and I wanted him to do 120. Don”t spare the horses, I thought.

We arrived in Tobruk at sundown and checked into a hotel. The war felt a million miles away, and that night I again fell heavily into the arms of Morpheus.

This morning we traveled to the Libya-Egypt border and began the long process of crossing. Everyone asked for some kind of fee, and as Ali took care of details time passed slowly, each hour feeling like a year.

Thousands of African refugees clogged the no man”s land between the two Arab nations, and I struck up a conversation with a young Somali. He had been stuck there for almost a month since fleeing the fighting in Port Brega. An electrician by trade, he didn’t want to go back to his home country, or to Libya or on to Egypt. He desperately wished for a boat ride to Malta, Sicily or mainland Italy.

“The Libyans want to overthrow a regime,” he said, speaking with wisdom gained from a lifetime in squalid and hopeless refugee camps just like this. “But who will rule? The rebels? Militias? The man with the gun?  Libya is on the same path as Somalia.”

Yes, it seems that way. Just about everybody in Libya has a weapon and no one is in charge. Call it what you want, but by all appearances Libya is in the throes of civil war.

When all the documents finally were in order, we got into the car and left. At the final checkpoint, three Egyptian soldiers with AK-47 rifles asked for our names and passports. Times reporter David Zucchino identified himself as George Clooney, eliciting laughter all around. Then we crossed. A cheer went up inside the car as we high-fived, laughed loudly and exhaled.

The highway descended a plateau to the seaside town of Saloum, Egypt. I love border towns — like Saloum, or Karamah, Jordan, or San Ysidro, Calif. They’re not much to talk about but infinitely more safe than what’s in the rear view mirror.

This will be my last dispatch from this assignment to Libya. The accompanying gallery includes images from my six weeks in the country. Call it postcards from the edge.

I”m in the back seat and we’re heading due east with the sun behind us. Diddy is rapping my ears off and I want it louder.

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the world I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday

Really, few things can match the rush of a war zone. But pure adrenaline doesn’t even compare to the wave of relief when you finally get out.

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