When Mosul fell to Islamic State on June, 10, 2014, it sparked one of the biggest attacks on press freedom in recent times. Newspapers were shuttered, TV channels were ransacked, radio stations disappeared from the airwaves, and dozens of journalists vanished. Within days, the militants had a monopoly on information output.
For the past two years, activists and journalists seeking refuge from Islamic State repression in Raqqa would take sanctuary across the border in southern Turkey, setting up safe houses and offices, and darting back to Syria regularly with camera equipment and other vital supplies. But that sanctuary is now under threat.
Amar hasn’t left his house in five days. Every evening he fears a knock on the door will bring militants who have been searching for him. He hasn’t earned a salary in more than a year and relies on a few trusted neighbors to bring him food.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined 16 other human rights and press freedom organisations calling on Syrian authorities to drop charges against Mazen Darwish, the founder of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, who was released from prison on August 10.
The militant group Islamic State may be trying to push Syria back into the dark ages, but it is fighting a very modern war. From slick propaganda videos to online surveillance and wide restrictions on Internet use, the Islamic State is trying to control media output and stamp down on dissent.