Youssef Younis

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Younis was shot while covering clashes between the rebel Free Syrian Army and government forces in the Damascus suburb of Sidi Meqdad, according to opposition news reports and the Beirut-based watchdog the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKeyes). Younis had traveled with the rebel forces to cover an attack against government forces who were occupying several buildings in the neighborhood, the reports said.

Younis, 24, who was popularly known as "Abu Mujahid," was a photographer and videographer who regularly filmed clashes between the rebels and government forces. He had studied economics at Damascus University, but left school in 2011 to cover the Syrian uprising as a citizen journalist.

Younis was a contributor to Lens Young Dimashqi, a collective of citizen photographers in Damascus and its suburbs. Younis' work for the collective has been picked up by several regional outlets, including the Lebanese English-language Daily Star.

Younis also helped found the local Coordination Committee for the Syrian Revolution in Babbila, and often contributed to its Facebook page and YouTube Channel. The Syrian Revolution Coordination of Babbila is a collective of citizen journalists and activists who coordinate the media effort in the neighborhood, including covering clashes and conducting interviews. The group has published hundreds of videos since establishing its YouTube account in 2011. Its coverage has been picked up by international and local news outlets.

Similar media centers have sprung up all across Syria as citizen journalists and opposition activists document how the unrest has affected their communities. The documentation provided by citizen journalists has been crucial in the international understanding of the Syrian conflict because of extreme government restrictions and danger that prevent widespread news media coverage.

CPJ found two pictures of Younis posing with automatic weapons, but CPJ found that media coverage of Younis consistently described him only as a photographer and videographer. Any non-combatant, including journalists, who take part in hostilities lose their protective status, according to the Geneva Conventions.

Lens Young Dimashqi and the Coordination Committee for the Syrian Revolution in Babilla did not respond to requests for comment.

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