Iraqi cameraman and war photographer Louay Sadiq Meshaal died in a car bomb attack in Iraq’s central Kirkuk province while he was embedded with a local fighting unit, according to Sadiq’s employer al-Nujaba TV, which is affiliated with the Iranian-backed militia Harakat al-Nujaba.
At the time of the explosion, Sadiq was with the Iraqi state-sponsored 12th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Units, which consists mainly of Shiite militias, in the village of Salman in Kirkuk’s Makhoul mountain range, according to a statement al-Nujaba issued to CPJ via email.
According to al-Nujaba TV and the local press freedom group Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, Sadiq was covering military operations to retake Salman’s al-Hawija district from the militant group Islamic State group.
Sadiq’s friend and war correspondent for Harakat al-Nujaba, Muntazir al-Shara, was with Sadiq at the time of his death, and posted an account of the car bomb blast on his Facebook feed along with a picture the two had taken moments before the explosion.
Al-Shara wrote on Facebook that he met up with Sadiq in Salman with the intent of replacing his colleague on the frontlines. The car bomb explosion occurred when Sadiq went to retrieve a camera from Al-Shara and rejoin the advancing troops, according to al-Shara’s post.
"He was screaming loudly ‘heir, heir, heir,’" al-Nujaba wrote, a likely reference to a Quaranic verse that can, idiomatically, be translated as "God keep us healthy for as long as possible."
According to al-Shara, Sadiq died from shrapnel wounds not far from the scene of the explosion.
An employee of Al-Nujaba TV who refused to give his name told CPJ that Sadiq had worked as a cameraman and war photographer since 2014, and covered clashes in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Samarra, Tikrit, Beiji and Mosul. According to the employee, Sadiq also covered clashes between the Harakat al-Nujaba militia group and the Islamic State group in the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Tel Al-Aish, and Khanazir.
Harakat al-Nujaba is part of the Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq, and is one of the most prominent units within the Popular Mobilization Units, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi. It operates in Syria and Iraq under the leadership of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force, and has close ties to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.