Ahmad Hallak, a correspondent with Al-Buraq Media Institution, was killed in an airstrike on the western outskirts of Aleppo on August 2, 2016, while he was on his way to cover fighting in the east of the city, Seraj al-Deen al-Omar, the director of outlet, told the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Al-Omar said that Hallak, who was also known as Ahmad Abou al-Baraa, was on his way to cover fighting in eastern Aleppo when he was caught in the airstrike. Al-Omar said he could not confirm the source of the airstrikes, but said he believed the planes to have been Russian. Neither the Syrian military nor its Russian backers have claimed responsibility.
Various Syrian news outlets reported Hallak’s death and identified him as a journalist for Al-Buraq Media Institution. In its monthly report on attacks on the media, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said that Hallak worked for both Al-Buraq Media and as a photographer for Sham Legion, an armed rebel group. Al-Omar told CPJ that this was incorrect, and that Hallak had not worked for the Sham Legion. He said that Hallak would sometimes embed with the group on the battlefield to carry out his reporting for Al-Buraq Media.
The director of Sham Legion’s media office, who uses the pseudonym Abu Omar for security reasons, also confirmed to CPJ that Hallak was not a member of the armed group but died while embedded with the group’s fighters.
Al-Omar, the head of Al-Buraq Media, said Hallak often covered fighting in Aleppo and carried out interviews for the outlet. One video he shared with CPJ shows Hallak reporting the aftermath of airstrikes on the Kafr Hamra hospital in July 2016 for the station, and interviewing a doctor on site.
On August 1, 2016, Al-Jazeera reported rebel advances in eastern and western Aleppo, amid intense fighting between rebel groups and government forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights likewise reported fighting between rebel groups and government forces, as well as shelling and airstrikes by the Russian and Syrian forces southwest of Aleppo city. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that at least 40 people, including 22 civilians, were killed in government-controlled areas of Aleppo over the course of August 2-3, 2016.