Al-Ghadeer TV cameraman Ali Mahmud, also known as Ali Senaeh, was killed on July 13, 2016, while covering clashes between pro-government forces and Islamic State militants south of Mosul, the station reported. Two journalists for the state-run Al-Iraqiya television station, correspondent Ali Jawad and producer Ali Muftin, were also injured in the incident, according to Al-Ghadeer TV, Al-Iraqiya, and Agence France-Presse.
In a commemorative documentary by Al-Ghadeer TV, Jawad and Muftin said the three journalists were accompanying pro-government forces attempting to recapture the Islamic State-controlled Qayyarah area south of Mosul. They said that Islamic State militants suddenly attacked the convoy with chlorine explosives. CPJ could not independently confirm the claim, although the Islamic State group has attacked with chlorine previously, according to news reports citing doctors and Iraqi officials.
The troops and journalists pushed to higher ground to avoid the chemical clouds from the chlorine attack but then began to receive heavy fire, the journalists said in the documentary. Mahmud and Muftin took cover behind armored Humvees but continued to receive direct fire.
Footage from the documentary shows Mahmud filming without protective gear under heavy fire between two armored vehicles. Mahmud ducks behind the vehicle in front as a bullet strikes the windshield of the vehicle behind.
Muftin and Mahmud were far behind Jawad’s position and without the ability to move forward. Jawad said that as he arrived with a Humvee to retrieve the other two journalists, a heat-seeking missile detonated nearby, resulting in Mahmud’s death.
According to the Al-Hurra television station, Jawad suffered broken bones and shrapnel wounds and Muftin suffered less severe injuries due to the explosion. According to Al-Iraqiya footage, the severely wounded journalist, Jawad, recovered and was once again reporting less than three months after sustaining his injuries.
Muhannad al-Aqabi, the head of the media office for pro-government paramilitary forces, confirmed that a heat-seeking missile killed Al-Ghadeer TV’s Mahmud and injured Al-Iraqiya’s Jawad and Muftin, according to Agence France-Presse. Al-Ghadeer TV is closely affiliated with the Badr Organization, a Shia political party and paramilitary force fighting alongside the Iraqi government.
Footage in the Al-Ghadeer TV documentary shows Mahmud pointing out enemy fighters seen through his zoomed camera lens to the pro-government forces with which he was embedded. There were also several photographs of Mahmud in fatigues and body armor carrying rifles and his camera simultaneously.
Ali Muftin told CPJ that Mahmud was killed while on assignment with Al-Ghadeer TV, and confirmed that the specific combat footage from that commemorative documentary was from the day of Mahmud’s death.
Muftin told CPJ that Mahmud would point out enemy fighters to the pro-government forces with which he was embedded, including at night with his night-vision camera capabilities. He said that Mahmud only carried a weapon for self-defense, that the photos in the documentary were posed, and that Mahmud never fired a shot.
Muftin praised Mahmud’s journalistic courage, saying he covered Islamic State car bombs, even as they barreled toward the journalist. Mahmud was in his late twenties, married, and had one young daughter, Muftin said.
The battle for Qayyarah in which Mahmud was killed was part of operations in preparation for the campaign to retake the city of Mosul, the Islamic State group’s stronghold in Iraq. Three months after Mahmud’s death in Qayyarah, the Iraqi government formally commenced the military campaign to retake Mosul, according to The Associated Press.