Syrian journalist killed while covering fighting in Daraya

New York, February 22, 2016 — Syrian freelance journalist Majid Dirani was killed on February 19 by Syrian military tank shells while covering fighting in a suburb of Damascus, one of his employers, Anadolu Agency, and other news outlets reported.

Dirani, 21, was killed while trying to photograph the shelling and aerial bombardment of his neighborhood, Daraya, a suburb of Damascus that has been besieged by the Syrian army since 2012, according to his colleague at Anadolu, Mohammed Misto. “We used to call him our ‘eyes in Daraya'” since he began working with Anadolu in December, Misto said. The district has seen increasing street battles and bombings since January, according to the Syrian Human Rights Observatory.

“We condemn the killing of Majid Dirani. Local journalists in Syria who are trying to convey to the world the horrible conditions inside their country continue to pay the ultimate price for their work,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator.

The Darayya Media Center, a local media group dedicated to reporting news from the district, on February 19 said Dirani had worked with them since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011. The group published a video on their YouTube channel and a photo on their Facebook page claiming to show the moment Dirani was killed. The center also published a picture on social media purportedly showing Dirani’s lifeless body with his camera.

Dirani, who was also known as Majid Abu Shafiq, had extensively documented the bombing of his district, according to his Facebook account, videos he recorded, the testimony of his colleague from the Darayya Media Center, and news reports.

Syria was the most dangerous country for the press in 2015, with at least 14 journalists killed. Since 2011, at least 93 journalists have been killed in Syria.