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An explosion is seen over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on October 12, 2019. Turkish airstrikes near Ras al-Ain recently killed two journalists. (Reuters/Stoyan Nenov)

Second Syrian Kurdish journalist dies of wounds sustained in Turkish air strike

October 15, 2019 2:20 PM ET

Beirut, October 15, 2019 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists today strongly condemned the Turkish air strike on a civilian convoy, as reports emerged that a second journalist died yesterday as a result of the attack.

In the afternoon of October 13, a Turkish air strike hit a civilian convoy carrying local and foreign journalists near the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as CPJ reported at the time. Mohammed Hussein Rasho, a Syrian Kurdish reporter and cameraman for Cira TV, was injured in the blast and died of his wounds the following day, according to Cira TV Director Zanar Jafr, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Syrian Kurdish journalist Saad Ahmed, a reporter for the local news agency Hawar News, died of his wounds shortly after the strike, and three other journalists, including Rasho, were injured, according to Jafr and CPJ reporting. The blast killed 15 civilians, including the two journalists, according to news reports.

“The deaths of Mohammed Hussein Rasho and Saad Ahmed in northern Syria are just the latest tragic example of the complete disregard for journalist safety by all sides in the Syrian conflict,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Journalists have come under attack by the Assad regime and its allies, the Islamic State group, and now Turkish forces. We call on Turkish authorities to immediately cease their reckless attacks on journalists and other civilians.”

Rasho was moved to a hospital in the northeastern Syrian city of Al-Hasakah following the attack, where he received treatment but died yesterday, Jafr said.

Jafr sent a photo to CPJ showing Rasho being dragged away from a burning vehicle with blood visible on his right arm and leg, and on the right side of his face. The journalist had “sustained wounds all over his body,” Jafr said.

A report by France 2 TV said that the convoy was escorted by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of militias led by security forces loyal to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Cira TV is a Yazidi broadcaster that is supportive of that party, according to CPJ’s review of its broadcasts. Rasho had worked there for about two months, Jafr said.

Ras al-Ain has seen intense fighting between Turkish and Syrian Kurdish forces since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an offensive into Syrian on October 9, according to news reports.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has been responsible for the deaths of numerous journalists by torture, missile strikes, and targeted assassinations, according to CPJ reporting. Turkey is the world’s worst jailer of journalists, according to CPJ’s 2018 prison census.

CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team is closely monitoring the situation in Northern Syria and is in communication with many journalists covering the conflict. Journalists can consult CPJ’s Safety Note for War Reporting for safety information.

[Editor's Note: This article has been corrected in the third paragraph to accurately reflect when Ahmed died.]

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