Journalists Killed  |  Syria

Abdullah Sobhi al-Ghazawi

SMART News Agency,

November 8, 2013, in Daraa , Syria

Al-Ghazawi, also known as Abdullah al-Rais, was a videographer for the local SMART News Agency. He was killed on his way to cover clashes in the southern city of Daraa on November 8, 2013, according to news reports and a local media center. He was a member of the Daraa Media Union (DMU), an umbrella organization that helps coordinate coverage of local events by opposition media centers in Daraa.

Jawad al-Musalama, the chairman of the DMU, told CPJ that al-Ghazawi had returned to his office after filming clashes in Tariq al-Sadd on the day of his death. When he was on his way back to the front line to continue filming the battle, he was hit by missile shrapnel in his heart, leg, and hand, killing him instantly.

Al-Musalama told CPJ that al-Ghazawi was one of the co-founders of the Local Committees of the City of Daraa, an organization that coordinates civil services in the area, and worked as the head of the organization's media office in Tariq al-Sadd, filming local events. When the DMU was established, al-Musalama said, it incorporated the Local Committees' media office in Tariq al-Sadd under its umbrella, and al-Ghazawi continued his reporting as a member of the DMU and head of the Tariq al-Sadd office.

Al-Ghazawi's videos for SMART in the days before his death showed intense fighting, smoke rising from random shelling and aircraft bombing raids, and graphic videos of injured victims. Video reports by SMART News Agency have previously been aired on international news networks, such as Al-Jazeera.

Al-Ghazawi uploaded much of his footage on his personal YouTube page, which has almost 900 videos and has garnered nearly 350,000 views. The page includes a video of the body of citizen journalist Muhammad Hassan al-Musalama, who was killed in Daraa several months earlier while heading to cover clashes, according to CPJ research. Graphic videos posted the day before his death show victims of random shelling as well as the sound of gunfire.

Several photos of al-Ghazawi from his personal Facebook page seen by CPJ show al-Ghazawi with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder as he is filming. Al-Ghazawi's Facebook page is no longer publicly available. Jawad al-Musalama, who is also pictured in the photos, told CPJ that al-Ghazawi was not a combatant and that he was posing with the rifle while filming the Sweidan Market in Daraa. Any non-combatant, including journalists, who take part in hostilities lose their protective status, according to the Geneva Conventions.  


Motive Unconfirmed: CPJ is investigating to determine whether the death was work-related.


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