New York, December 27, 2015–Naji Jerf, editor-in-chief of the independent monthly Hentah and the maker of documentary films on the militant group Islamic State, was shot and killed in broad daylight today by unknown assailants with a silenced pistol in front of a building that houses Syrian opposition news outlets in downtown Gaziantep, Turkey, near the Syrian border, according to news reports.
Turkish authorities said they have opened an investigation. The killing comes after Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deaths of two Syrian journalists found murdered in an apartment in the city of Urfa in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, in October.
“Syrian journalists who have fled to Turkey for their safety are not safe at all,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We call on Turkish authorities to bring the killers of Naji Jerf to justice swiftly and transparently, and to step up measures to protect all Syrian journalists on Turkish soil.”
Jerf had recently directed and produced a documentary in which he documented the killing of Syrian activists at the hands of Islamic State during the militant group’s occupation of the city of Aleppo in 2013 and 2014. The documentary, which he published on his YouTube channel this month and which recently aired on pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya, attracted more than 12 million views and tens of thousands of comments on Al-Arabiya’s Facebook page, Al-Arabiya reported. Jerf had also directed a documentary about the Syrian citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, according to the group, which was honored in November with CPJ’s 2015 International Press Freedom Award.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Jerf’s murder. Some supporters of Islamic State celebrated the killing on social media.