Thaer al-Ajlani

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Freelance radio and print journalist al-Ajlani was killed by shrapnel on July 27, 2015 in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, during clashes between government forces and rebel groups, according to colleagues with whom CPJ spoke.

On the day he died, al-Ajlani was working for Sham FM, the director of the independent radio station Samer Yousef, told CPJ by phone. Al-Ajlani was documenting clashes on the Jobar frontlines for the pro-government outlet and had been in the area for several days, Yousef said. The journalist had been reporting from behind government forces’ lines.

Sham FM released a statement on July 27 about al-Ajlani’s death, saying shrapnel from rebel mortar shells killed him at dawn that day. A video of his funeral, posted to Sham FM’s Facebook page, showed his body being brought past the radio station’s office in Damascus.

Al-Ajlani was a well-known journalist within pro-regime circles and Sham FM published several letters of condolence it received from Syrian government agencies. Al-Ajlani was described as a martyr in an article published by the state news agency SANA, and by the Syrian Journalists Union and the National Media Council.

Alongside his work for Sham FM, al-Ajlani wrote stories on a freelance basis for the pro-government daily Al-Watan. He also worked as a press officer for the National Defense Forces, a militia embedded with President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in their fight against rebel groups, including in Jobar. He made a short film from behind the defense forces’ lines in Jobar, which was shared on July 28, 2015, on the Facebook page of a group that supports President Assad’s brother, Maher, who runs the Fourth Division of the army.

Lebanese TV channel LBC said on July 27 that its correspondent, al-Ajlani, was killed “while on duty.” Lara Zalloum, head of news for the channel, told CPJ he had not worked for the outlet since December 2014.