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Two Syrian Journalists Killed In Rebel-Held Town


Mourners attend the funeral of Raed Fares and Hammoud al-Juneid in the village of Kafr Nabel in the northwestern province of Idlib on November 23.

Two Syrian journalists critical both of the regime and Islamist militants have been killed in the province of Idlib, their radio station and a monitor said.

Unknown assailants drove up in a van and fired at Raed Fares and Hammoud al-Juneid in the town of Kafr Nabel on November 23, Radio Fresh said on its Facebook page.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, they both died shortly afterward of their wounds. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

More than half of Idlib and the surrounding region is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by jihadists of Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, while most of the remaining areas are held by pro-Turkey rebels.

Islamic State militants also have a strong presence in the region.

Target killings and kidnappings are widespread in the area, with angry residents blaming all sides.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said that the two journalists "were famous for their criticism of rebels committing violations or arresting civilians."

"Both have several times been detained by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham," he said.

Fares founded Radio Fresh in 2013 to counter "fundamentalist narratives" in Idlib, he has said, after which he was repeatedly targeted by armed groups.

Fares survived an earlier assassination attempt in 2014 when he was shot in the chest by armed men. His radio station was raided by militants and bombed by government warplanes.

Radio Fresh provided news and information to Syria's northern provinces and it also provided training and jobs for hundreds of young activists and citizen journalists.

In a June op-ed in The Washington Post, Fares wrote: "If it weren't for us and other independent voices, terrorists would be the only source of information about Syria locally and internationally. For that reason, the terrorist groups (and the regime) see us as a direct threat."

With reporting by AP and AFP

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