At about 4:15 p.m. on October 13, 2019, a Turkish air strike hit a civilian convoy traveling between the northern Syrian towns of Qamishli and Ras al-Ain, killing Saad Ahmed, a Syrian Kurdish reporter for the local news agency Hawar News (ANHA), according to ANHA Director Alan Roj and Editorial Director Delshad Judy, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
At least four other journalists from local news outlets were injured in the attack, according to news reports and sources who spoke to CPJ. The blast killed 15 civilians, including the two journalists, according to the London-based human rights organization Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The attack took place near Ras al-Ain, a Syrian town on the Turkish border, which has seen intense fighting between Turkish and Syrian Kurdish forces since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an offensive into Syria on October 9, according to news reports.
Roj and Judy told CPJ that Ahmed and his ANHA colleague Mohammad Ikinji were with a group of local and foreign journalists en route to cover a demonstration against Turkey’s offensive when their caravan was struck.
Shrapnel from the blast hit Ahmed near the head and hit Ikinji in the feet; both were transferred to the local Tall Tamr Hospital, where Ahmed died of his injuries, according to Roj.
Mohammed Hussein Rasho, a Syrian Kurdish reporter and cameraman for Cira TV who was also traveling in the convoy, was injured in the blast and died of his wounds the following day, according to Cira TV Director Zanar Jafr, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Arsene Jakso, a reporter for the Furat News Agency, Dilsuz Deldar, a reporter for the North Press Agency, and Amal Younis, a reporter for the pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party broadcaster Sterk TV, were also injured in the strike, according to news reports and a tweet by the North Press Agency. Those reports also stated that three additional journalists were injured in the attack, but CPJ could not independently verify that information at the time.
Masoud Hamd, a reporter working for French TV broadcaster France 2, who was in the convoy, told CPJ via messaging app that he believed no foreign journalists were injured in the attack. Heybar Othman, a reporter with U.S.-based Arabic satellite broadcaster Al Hurra, who covers the area and also spoke to CPJ via messaging app, agreed.
A report by France 2 TV said that the convoy was escorted by Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of militias led by security forces loyal to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.