Khalil, a cameraman for the Syrian opposition TV station Orient News, was killed with two other crew members when their car was hit by a missile as they were headed to cover the aftermath of clashes in Sheikh Miskeen village in the Daraa Province of Syria on December 8, 2014, the station and other news outlets reported.
According to Orient News, Khalil and two correspondents Rami Asmi and Yousef el-Dous were driving to cover recent opposition advances in Sheikh Miskeen when their car was hit by a guided missile fired by government forces. Orient News reported that minutes before they were killed, the three journalists passed government forces in the village of Qarfa on their way to Sheikh Miskeen. Orient News and Siraj Press, another opposition news outlet, reported that the missile was launched from Qarfa, about two miles from Sheikh Miskeen. It was not clear how the outlets determined the origin of the missile.
The car was not marked as a press vehicle, but Orient News said it was identifiable because it was carrying a satellite dish nearly 6 feet in diameter.
The Committee to Protect Journalists could not independently verify the claim that a missile directly targeted the car. CPJ research shows that government forces have likely targeted journalists directly in attempt to censor their reporting.
In a phone interview, the head of reporters at Orient News, Mohanad al-Sayed Ali, told CPJ that the reporters were targeted by the Assad regime as part of its efforts to silence journalists. He said Orient News had issued more than 40 broadcasts and 60 reports in the past two months from the southern part of Syria.
Orient reported that Khalil began using his camera to document and report on events in Daraa early in the Syrian civil war before becoming a correspondent for Orient News in Daraa.
Omari News, a local network for journalists in Khalil’s hometown of Busra, posted a video on its YouTube page showing Khalil’s funeral along with the funeral of el-Dous, which took place simultaneously.