Members of the French Foreign Legion celebrate Christmas. Edouard Elias
Time: Up Close With the French Foreign Legion
French photographer Edouard Elias embedded with the French Foreign Legion.
Edouard Elias first embedded with the French Foreign Legion in the summer of 2014 during France’s military intervention in Central African Republic. At first, the legionnaires were wary of yet another journalist shadowing them. They believed that most journalists were only interested in their own work, says Elias, and not in the mission of the troops—but the French photographer, who had been kidnapped in Syria in 2013 and spent 10 months in captivity, proved otherwise when the Legion ran into trouble.
“One day, there were some skirmishes,” he remembers. “They saw that they could count on me in the field and that’s when they really accepted me.”
Elias had spent several months in Syria confined to an underground cell with James Foley and other journalists. So, when the news of Foley’s execution at the hands of ISIS reached the regiment, the legionnaires were prepared. “They learned about his death before I did, so they were all around me when I heard the news, beers at the ready,” he says. “It sounds stupid, but that counts. They became friends, in a way.”
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WNU Editor: This must not have been an easy embed.