By Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Even for a freelance journalist covering the tumult in the Arab world, Steven Sotloff's travels seemed nonstop. In December, he was in northern Syria, writing about the lives of destitute, displaced Syrians and the war, according to his published reports and his communications with colleagues and editors. It's pretty bad here," he e-mailed another journalist. "I've been sleeping at a front, hiding from tanks the past few nights, drinking rain water." In August 2013, telling colleagues he understood the dangers, Sotloff returned to Syria, slipping across the border from Turkey.