Beirut, March 20, 2018–Kamel abu al-Walid, a photographer for the Turkish-backed pro-opposition Jarabulus Media Office, died from injuries sustained in a March 19 landmine explosion in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, according to his employer, the Syrian Journalist Association, and the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
Al-Walid was covering the takeover of Afrin by Turkish forces and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions when a landmine planted in an office building exploded next to him, according to Murat Mahli, the Jarabulus Media Office director, who spoke with eyewitnesses. Mahli told CPJ that al-Walid died at the scene.
“Syria is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington D. C. “We urge all sides to make every effort to guarantee the safety of civilians, including journalists, or the number of journalists killed will only continue to grow.”
Mahli said that al-Walid had worked as a photographer for the Jarabulus Media Center since August 2016 when the center was established. The journalist primarily covered the humanitarian effects of the war on northern Syria.
Prior to working as a photojournalist, al-Walid was a member of the Free Syrian Army, according to Mahli and pictures on al-Walid’s Facebook account.
Turkish forces and FSA factions seized Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Union (YPG) on March 18 after a two-month offensive, news reports stated. According to the London-based human rights organization Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 289 civilians and 2,015 fighters were killed during the operation.
Syria is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. At least 117 journalists have been killed there in relation to their work since the conflict began in 2011, according to CPJ research.