Eissa and independent Syrian journalist Hadi Abdullah were wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) that destroyed their house in the Syrian city of Aleppo late the night of June 16, according to media reports.
The IED exploded at around midnight in front of Abdullah’s home, where he and Eissa were staying. Eissa was taken to a hospital, where he fell into a coma with wounds to the head and abdomen, according to reports.
Abdullah remained trapped beneath the rubble for a longer period. Members of the Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer organization which is also known as the White Helmets, were able to remove him early the following morning, and took him to the same hospital as Eissa, Kenan Rahmani, a Syrian-American lawyer close to both journalists, told CPJ. Abdullah suffered multiple fractures in his left leg, as well as an injury to one eye and to his jaw, Rahmani said.
Syrian activists and the pro-opposition website Orient.net described the attack as an assassination attempt. Abdullah has been outspoken against the Syrian government since protests against President Bashar al-Assad swept the country in 2011, and has reported from different cities in the country since then.
Both journalists were injured by a barrel bomb only two days before, on June 14, while covering government airstrikes in Aleppo. An online video shows Abdullah immediately after the bombing. The next day, the journalists shared a photograph on social media of themselves back at work.
Abdullah and Eissa had been based in Aleppo to cover the conflict there for the past three months, according to Rahmani. They had been working together for more than a year.
Eissa began his work in media covering anti-government demonstrations in his hometown of Kafranbel. In one video posted to his YouTube channel on March 21, 2014, Eissa filmed the chaotic aftermath of the government’s bombardment of the town’s largest mosque during Friday prayers.
The current imam of the mosque refused to administer prayers for Eissa’s funeral, according to the Syrian opposition website Enab Baladi, which described the imam as close to the Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Nusra Front has repeatedly censored independent journalists and activists in the area. A day before the IED explosion, Nusra Front forcibly shut down Radio Fresh, an independent radio station based in Kafranbel founded by Eissa’s close friend, Raed Fares, according to news reports. The group also briefly detained Fares and Abdullah after storming the station in January 2016.
No group has claimed responsibility for Eissa’s murder.