Abdul Salam Kanaan

Beats Covered:
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Abdul Salam Kanaan, a photographer for the Syrian satellite channel Al-Jisr TV, was killed on October 31, 2016, while recording video of Syrian military airstrikes on the village of Zafraneh, north of Homs, the channel and the local press freedom group the Syrian Center for Journalistic Freedoms (SCJF) reported.

Al-Jisr on October 31 published a graphic video to its YouTube channel purportedly showing the moment Kanaan’s body was recovered. The video shows medics rushing to a destroyed building and removing what appears to be Kanaan’s corpse out of the rubble to a nearby vehicle. The videographer can be heard calling Kanaan’s first name.

Al-Jisr’s Homs correspondent, Anas Abu Adnan, who worked with Kanaan in reporting on the area for years, was present at the time of the air strike and survived. He told the station that Kanaan filmed Syrian military planes firing missiles at the village from his home. A second strike directly hit his home and destroyed it. Kanaan was hit in the back of the head by shrapnel and died instantly, but several members of his family and neighbors were injured, Abu Adnan said.

Kanaan was an activist and a fighter with the Syrian opposition before he started working for Al-Jisr TV in April 2014, the station said in a YouTube video commemorating the journalist. He was arrested in 2007 and spent three years in jail for writing poetry opposing former Syrian president Hafiz Al-Assad, who in 1982 killed thousands of people putting down a Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in the nearby town of Hama. Kanaan joined mass protests against the Syrian government in 2011 and, after the government used lethal force in an attempt to quell the uprising, joined the armed opposition in 2012, Al-Jisr reported.

Following Kanaan’s death, his brother, Mohamed, published a photograph of the journalist posing with a gun on his personal Facebook page. A friend also used the photograph of Kanaan posing with a gun in a video obituary published on YouTube on November 2. Abu Adnan told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Kanaan had stopped fighting, and that over the course of the two years Kanaan had worked with Al-Jisr TV, Abu Adnan had never seen him carry a gun.

SCJF, which is part of the Syrian Journalists’ Association, and local news sources said Kanaan moved to Zafraneh village in 2013 after a Syrian army offensive in Homs forced many residents of surrounding villages to flee.

Al-Jisr TV, founded in 2012, focuses on Syrian and regional news. The Egyptian satellite company NileSat broadcasts its signal.

Kanaan was survived by his wife.