Media watchdog calls on Turkey to catch ISIL killers of Syrian journalist

Media watchdog calls on Turkey to catch ISIL killers of Syrian journalist

Media watchdog calls on Turkey to catch ISIL killers of Syrian journalist

DHA photo

The Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) on April 13 called on the authorities to protect journalists after a Syrian reporter was gunned down in broad daylight by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Turkey’s southeast, marking the fourth such incident in six months.

Zahir al Sherqat, an online broadcaster for Aleppo Today who regularly traveled to Syria to report from the front-line in the fight against ISIL, was shot in the neck on April 10 by a masked attacker in Gaziantep near the Syrian border. He died in hospital two days later.

ISIL claimed responsibility for Sherqat’s murder, saying his journalistic activity had been “antagonistic” to ISIL. 

A senior representative of the U.S.-based CPJ, Nina Ognianova, called on the Turkish authorities to “urgently demonstrate that killing journalists on the streets of Turkey is unacceptable and will not go unpunished,” Reuters reported. 

This was the fourth attack on a Syrian journalist in Turkey claimed by the extremist group. Last year, two journalists were found with their throats slit while third journalist was shot dead in the street in Gaziantep, which has become a hub for Syrian activists and journalists documenting the war. 

Sherqat came to Turkey in 2015 after surviving an assassination attempt in Syria. In Turkey he started working for Aleppo Today and his programs took a stance against extremist groups.

A native of the Syrian town of Al-Bab, Sherqat was an imam who studied Islamic Law at Damascus University, according to his friend Barry Abdullatif, a Syrian activist quoted by the Associated Press. 

When the Syrian revolution started in 2011, he was a founding member of the local coordinating committee of Al-Bab and a field organizer of demonstrations against the Syrian regime. He later formed the Abu Bakr Al-Sadiq Brigade, which fought under the banner of the opposition Free Syrian Army.

When extremist groups al-Nusra and ISIL appeared in Al-Bab, Sherqat opposed them, according to Abdulattif, who is also a native of the town.