Essam Abdullah

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reporter Essam Abdullah was killed on November 20, 2022, during Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria, according to an ANHA executive and Jarada, who both spoke to CPJ by phone, and news reports.

ANHA is a news agency affiliated with the Kurdish administration of northeast Syria and broadcasts in six different languages.

The Turkish strikes on Kurdish militant bases in northern Syria and northern Iraq left dozens—including at least 11 civiliansdead a week after a deadly bombing on an Istanbul street. Turkish authorities blamed the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) for the Istanbul attack; both groups have denied the charge.

According to an ANHA report, Abdullah headed toward a bombed area in the village of Tqil Baqil in the northeastern Syrian city of Derik after the first round of airstrikes. He was killed while reporting there when Turkish aircraft bombed the area again.

Mustafa Allua, head of ANHA, told CPJ by phone that the strikes occurred at 1:10 a.m. on November 20. “Essam told me that he will go to the targeted village to cover because there are civilian casualties. I agreed,” Allua said.  

“I was in contact with Essam until 2 a.m. We called him several times but were useless,” Allua said. “(W)e realized he was killed in the second airstrike.” Allua added that Abdullah’s body had been found with his camera burned.

According to ANHA, Abdullah started working in journalism in 2013 as a reporter for Kurdish broadcaster Ronahi TV. In July 2018, he joined ANHA as a reporter, and covered a wide variety of topics for the news agency.

In a statement, the Kurdish-led de facto regional government in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, condemned Abdullah’s killing, saying it considered the airstrikes “the twelfth violation against journalists in North and East Syria by Turkey.”

The Turkish Defense Ministry said November 20 that it was targeting areas “used as a base by terrorists in their attacks on our country.”

CPJ contacted Haval Jwan, co-chair of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria’s information department, for comment via WhatsApp but did not receive any responses.