Al-Zahouri died on February 20 in a hospital in the Lebanese city of Arsal from injuries he sustained five days earlier when a shell landed near him in the Qalamoun region in the Syrian district of Yabroud, according to human rights organization Syrian Journalist Association and local news reports. He was the director of and photographer for Al-Qusair Lens, a Facebook page that covers events in Al-Qusair and the surrounding areas. Several of al-Zahouri photographs and videos from the Facebook page were published by The Associated Press, local Syrian news channels, and the Al-Qusair Media Center, a media organization that broadcasts news about al-Qusair and the surrounding area.
At the time of the attack on February 15, al-Zahouri was documenting the fighting between the opposition and government forces backed by Hezbollah near the Lebanese border, according to the regional human rights organization SKeyes and news reports. He was accompanied by Hadi Abdullah, a journalist who also contributed to the Al-Qusair Media Center.
Abdullah told CPJ that shortly before the mortar hit, he left al-Zahouri, who was recording the fighting, and went to upload footage they had recorded earlier. Abdullah said he later received a phone call in which he was told that al-Zahouri had been injured and taken to a hospital in Lebanon.
Abdullah pointed CPJ to a graphic video posted on February 20, 2014, by the Coordination Committee of the City of Yabroud, an online organization dedicated to covering Yabroud and Qalamoun, that he said captured the moment al-Zahouri was struck with the mortar shell.
Al-Zahouri’s reporting was an essential source of information on the Assad government’s campaign to reassert control over the Lebanese-Syria border, including the 2013 fall of Al-Qusair. The city of Yabroud fell to government forces a month after al-Zahouri’s death, according to news reports.