In March 2019: media professional killed by Russian shelling out of 16 violations against media in Syria

The line of violations against media in Syria has witnessed an increase in number from one month to another since the start of the current year. Violations, committed by different forces on the Syrian arena, varied between killing, direct injury, detaining, arrest, silencing voices of media professionals and denial of media coverage.

The Syrian Centre for Journalistic Freedoms (SCJF) of the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA) documented 16 violations against media in Syria in March 2019. Thus, March 2019 has witnessed a significant increase in the number of documented violations compared to that in January (2 violations) and February (9 violations).     

Multiple reasons led the line of violations to increase in number in March. Shelling in March occurred at a lower rate compared to that in February, though, the systematic shelling by the Syrian regime and Russian forces left a number of violations. Also, March witnessed unprecedented cases of restricting and pressuring media freedoms in areas north of Syria, which led to 13 violations.    

Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) continues to impose restrictions on media freedoms after it has controlled Idlib province and Aleppo western countryside. HTS topped those responsible for violations by committing 8 violations in March. The Syrian regime and the allied Russian forces, as usual, are responsible for the most deadly violations against journalists as one media professional was killed by the Russian forces and another one was injured by the regime’s artillery. The Syrian regime, also, detained a Jordanian media professional in Syria in March. 

On the other hand, Syrian opposition committed 2 violations, Turkish authorities committed 2 violations in Aleppo countrywide and ISIS committed one violation. 

The SCJF documented in March 2019 the killing of one media professional and the injury of 2 other media professionals. Media professional Mahmoud Abdulal was killed by Russian airstrikes on the countryside of Idlib’s Jisr al-Shughour. Thus, the number of killed media professionals documented by the SCJF has risen to 447 since 2011. 

The SCJF also documented the injury of media professional Iyyad Abduljawad, aka Abu al-Jod, by the regime’s shelling on Hama western countryside. Also, media professional Baran Misko was injured by an explosion of a landmine left by ISIS in al-Baghouz in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.     
The violations documented by the SCJF in March were not restricted to killing, injury but also included detaining and arrest. Media professionals Malek Abu Obeid and Badr Taleb were detained by the Syrian opposition’s police and general security in Aleppo’s al-Bab. However, they were released several hours after their arrest. 

Also, Turkish authorities arrested media professionals Abdulhadi Hasan Tatin and Khaled al-Hubl, aka Khaled Abu al-Hawa, while they were preparing a report in Afrin city, north of Aleppo, under the pretext of not having a license to film. Tatin and Abu al-Hawa were released in the evening of the same day of their arrest.

On the other hand, the Syrian regime arrested Jordanian media professional Raafat Nabhan after he entered Syria through the crossing point Jdaidat Yabous in Damascus countryside near the crossing point al-Masna’ in Lebanon; Nabha’s fate is still unknown.            

Furthermore, March witnessed a violation of hitting media professional and denying others media coverage. Members of HTS hit media professional Omar Haj Kaddour and denied him media coverage of Turkish patrols moving in Aleppo countryside. HTS, also, denied media professionals Ibrahim al-Khatib, Saif al-Ra’d and Ghaith al-Said, who accompanied Omar Haj Kaddour, media coverage of the Turkish patrols.
In a similar manner, HTS denied media professionals Mustafa Haj Suliman, Yusuf Ghraibi, Ahmad Ibrahim al-Atrash and Ibrahim Muhammed al-Darwish media coverage of Turkish military vehicles in Idlib countryside.     

As for geographical distribution, violations focused in the north of Syria as Aleppo witnessed 8 violations while Idlib witnessed 5 violations. And, Hama, Dier Ezzor and Damascus Countryside witnessed one violation each. 

Finally, HTS released one media professional Muhammed Fadl al-Janodi, aka Muhammed al-Shami, after arresting him for more than 8 months in Idlib. Also, the Democratic Union Party (PYD)’s Asayish released media professional Ahmad Hasan Ahmad, aka Ahmad Soufi, after arresting him for about 5 months, also The Syrian authorities released journalist Ammar al-Izzo on March 20, 2019, after arresting him since July 2018 by the Information crimes department of regime’s interior ministry in Aleppo.

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