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Children play football in front of a damaged building in a rebel-held neighborhood of Daraa in southern Syria on May 7, 2018. Unknown gunmen killed journalist Ibrahim al-Munjar in Daraa on May 17. (Mohamad Abazeed/AFP)

Unknown gunmen kill Syrian journalist in eastern Daraa

May 18, 2018 4:35 PM ET

Beirut, May 18, 2018--Two unknown gunmen killed Ibrahim al-Munjar, a correspondent for the Syrian news website Sy24 in the southern Syrian province of Daraa. Al-Munjar was killed in the city of Saida on May 17, according to his employer, news reports, and the Syrian Journalists Association.

Two unknown gunmen riding a motorcycle shot al-Munjar in front of his house in Saida, east of Daraa, hitting him in the neck and killing him instantly, according to news reports and Ghaith Hammour, editor-in-chief of Sy24.

Hammour told CPJ, "Al-Munjar covered social and humanitarian issues. The last story he covered for Sy24 was an award ceremony for outstanding students in the countryside of Daraa. However, he received many threats from [the militant group] Islamic State [IS] last year. That is why he had to move to Saida from his hometown Tal Shibab." Hammour added, "He used to cover the clashes between the Free Syrian Army and IS in Daraa province before he joined Sy24 six months ago."

Prior to joining Sy24, al-Munjar had worked for other Syrian outlets that criticized and documented violations by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including the Shaam News Network and the SMART News Agency.

"The killing of Ibrahim al-Munjar shows that journalists working in Syria continue to be exposed to a wide range of lethal threats," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "We urge all sides to do their utmost to guarantee the safety of journalists and allow them to do their job freely and without fear of retaliation."

Since they retook eastern Ghouta in April 2018, the Syrian government and its allies have been preparing an offensive on rebel-held Daraa, according to news reports.

Troops aligned with al-Assad have recently shelled the city of Daraa and rebel factions, including IS-backed Jaysh Khaled Ibn al-Waleed, have been engaging in clashes in Daraa province, according to the London-based human rights organization Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. At least 119 journalists have been killed in that country in relation to their work since the conflict began in 2011, according to CPJ research.

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