The al-Assi river in the town of Darkush in Syria's Idlib province on July 8, 2016. A Syrian militant group detained photographers Ahmad al-Akhras and Rami al-Ruslan as they were taking pictures of a water spring east of Darkush. (Reuters/Ammar Abdullah)

Syrian militia detains photographer in western Idlib

May 9, 2018 6:24 PM ET

The Syrian militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham detained Ahmad al-Akhras, a photographer for the pro-opposition Syrian news website Sy24 and correspondent for the opposition-affiliated Syrian Revolutionary Media Office in Idlib, on April 28, 2018, near the northwestern Syrian city of Darkush, according to news reports, the regional press freedom group SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, and the Syrian Journalists Association.

Al-Akhras and photographer Rami al-Ruslan were taking pictures of the Ain Al-Zarqa water spring, east of Darkush, when members of the militant group approached them and told the two men that they did not have permission to take photographs of the spring. The militants subsequently detained them, news reports and the Syrian Journalists Association said.

Ghaith Hammour, editor-in-chief of Sy24, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that al-Akhras was working for Sy24 at the time of his detention.

Al-Ruslan was released a day later, but al-Akhras is still being held, according to a May 7 statement by the Free Media Union in Idlib.

Al-Akhras has recently covered social issues for Sy24, including a training course for female police officers in Idlib province and a training session for teachers in the city of Ma'arrat Al-Nu'man on how to treat children with special needs and learning difficulties. However, he has also covered air strikes and protests in Idlib province.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham did not reply to CPJ's emailed request for comment.

The militant group, which comprises the Al-Qaeda-offshoot formerly known as Al-Nusra Front and other groups, has been holding two journalists, Hossam Mahmoud and Amjed al-Maleh, in Idlib since December 2017, CPJ research shows. Mahmoud was also accused of filming without permission.

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