A convoy carrying displaced Syrians arrives at a checkpoint in the western countryside of Idlib province on June 1, 2018. A Syrian militia detained a reporter in western Idlib on June 24. (AFP/George Ourfalian)

Syrian militia detains reporter in western Idlib

July 5, 2018 4:55 PM ET

Members of the militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham on June 24, 2018, detained Syrian journalist Mohammed Fadl al-Janoudi (also known as Mohammad al-Shami), a correspondent for the pro-opposition Qasioun News Agency in western Idlib and northern Lattakia, at his home in a displaced persons camp in the town of Bedama, between the villages of Ayn al-Bayda and Kherbet Eljoz, according to news reports and the Syrian Journalists Association. The militants seized his camera and his cell phone and took him to an unknown location.

Talal Kharrat, manager of the English department at Qasioun News Agency, told CPJ on July 5 that the news agency had reached out to the Syrian Salvation Government, a civil authority formed by Syrian opposition groups in Idlib province in early November 2017, and to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham spokesperson Emad Eddin Mujahid, inquiring about the reason for al-Janoudi's detention. Kharrat said they had not yet received a reply; however, they were told that the journalist is under investigation and that the matter will be solved shortly.

Media activist Abdo al-Yusef told the Syrian Journalists Association that the reason for his detention could be a picture of a celebration near the camp where al-Janoudi lives showing boys and girls playing together and female and male youth workers mingling together.

Al-Janoudi, who has been working as a reporter for Qasioun News Agency for a year and a half, has recently covered clashes between the Free Syrian Army and forces aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad north of Lattakia; Russian missile airstrikes in villages in western Idlib and northern Lattakia; and a campaign launched by civilian activists in the city of Lattakia to denounce the harassment, arrest, intimidation, and beating of Sunni residents at the hands of Alawites.

He also covers the daily life of internally displaced Syrians in the camps.

The militant group, which comprises the Al Qaeda offshoot formerly known as Al-Nusra Front and other groups, has been holding journalist Amjed al-Maleh in Idlib since December 2017, CPJ research shows.

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