Shahadat, the director of the Jasim Media Center, in the city of Jasim in Daraa province, was killed when a rocket fired by government forces struck a mosque next to the center’s headquarters, according to the Samir Kassir Foundation, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and local news reports.
Like many media outlets established since the conflict began in 2011, the Jasim Media Center was small, anti-regime, and operated primarily from Facebook, disseminating information about the impact of the war on the local area. The outlet closed its Facebook page in mid-November 2014, the month after Shahadat was killed, citing disagreements with other local groups. It merged with a bigger news outlet, the Syrian opposition website Shahid Media Foundation.
Abu Abdullah, who worked at the Jasim Media Center with Shahadat, told CPJ that Shahadat had worked with the center since 2011 and often covered demonstrations. Abdullah said Shahadat was also involved in emergency humanitarian work in Jasim with the local NGO Ahl Horan. An official within Ahl Horan told CPJ that Shahadat used to volunteer with the group, distributing aid and collecting money for the children of individuals killed in the war.
Abu Abdullah said that when the rocket hit, Shahadat had been inside the mosque next door to the media center, seeking refuge from a wave of other rocket attacks targeting Jasim that day. Earlier that day, the journalist had been documenting the shelling.
Jasim was one of the first places in Daraa province where the protests began during the Syrian uprising. But, three years later, around the time that Shahadat was killed, government forces had launched a campaign of bombing on the town in an attempt to unseat rebel groups based in the area.
CPJ could not confirm what Shahadat had been doing in the moments before shelling began.
Three days after his death, Shahadat’s friends and colleagues set up a Facebook page to remember him. On November 2, the media center published a YouTube video illustrating his reporting and aid work, and showed him leading prayers in the mosque.