On June 18, 2019, in the northwestern Syrian town of Kafr Houd, in Idlib governate, a plane-fired missile hit a truck containing fighters from the Free Idlib Army, an opposition group, and Amjad Hassan Bakir, a freelance photojournalist and cameraman who was embedded with the group, killing Bakir and at least ten fighters, according to Hazem Bakir, the journalist’s cousin, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app, news reports, and a report from the Syrian Journalists’ Association, a France-based press freedom organization.
"He was on a pick-up truck with soldiers who had taken part in the offensive on Kafr Houd when the car was hit by a missile fired by al-Assad troops," Hazem Bakir said, citing conversations he had with the journalist’s colleagues who were at the scene.
Obada al-Fadl, director of the pro-opposition Idlib Media Center, told CPJ via messaging app that the truck was hit by a thermal-guided missile fired from a plane. The Syrian and Russian governments have escalated their bombing campaign in the region in recent months, and other nations are not involved in air missions there, according to news reports.
"According to eyewitnesses, he was killed instantly. The Syrian Army doesn’t make any differences between soldiers, journalists, or civilians. They are all at risk," al-Fadl said.
Bakir reported on events in his hometown Saraqib, uploading videos to YouTube for use by the local Facebook news page Saraqib al-Hadath, where he covered airstrikes and bombings by pro-Assad forces, the Al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and the imprisonment of the leader of the Turkish-backed opposition faction Ahrar al-Sham.
Although news reports and the Syrian Journalists Association report said that Bakir was employed as a photographer by the Free Idlib Army, al-Fadl and Hazim Bakir denied this and said that Bakir was an independent freelance photojournalist.