Raed Al-Fares, a Syrian radio host who satirized both President Bashar al-Assad and opposition insurgents including ISIS, has been shot dead in the rebel-held Idlib province, the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA) said on Saturday.
“On November 23, 2018, the Syrians and the world woke up to the brutal killing of civilian activists and journalists ‘Raed Al Fares’ and ‘Hamoud Junaid’, in the town of Kafr-Nabl, after being hunted by extremist groups,” the SJA statement said. “Both of the men who were killed were pioneers of civil society and brought the free voice to the world through the famous banners of Kafr Nabl,” the statement added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based human rights organization, said Fares and Juneid were killed by unidentified gunmen in the town of Kafranbel, where their US-funded Radio Fresh station was based.
No group has claimed responsibility for killing the two activists.
Fares set up Radio Fresh in 2013 to provide news on the bloody Syria conflict, and specifically to northern provinces. He continued that effort until the US cut funds to rebel-held areas, including the radio station in June 2018.
The activist believed that his local radio could spread awareness about many things he advocated for, including social justice and democracy.
Fares, born in 1972, was known for calling for protests, that he stressed should be peaceful. He was an active part of that movement from day one and was also behind the famous English banners in Idlib.
As the war progressed, al-Fares secretly filmed and released footage showing the suffering of the people in Kafranbel.
In 2014 he was shot in the chest by ISIS and was abducted and tortured several times, according to the SOHR.
Fares was interviewed about his work in a video posted on YouTube.
“I have known them for at least 4 years from the early days of the liberation,” Ayman Akkad, 30, a friend of Fares, told CNN.
“Raed is the one I go to when I want a thorough honest advisory. …totally honest and straightforward. He was always joking about how many times he found hidden bombs around his house, he wouldn’t buy a car because it would be his grave. He led an everlasting battle for democracy and prosperity of Syria. He advocated for right during the times of fear, when everyone was silent. My reaction was like I was waiting for it, I kinda knew it …it sounded familiar but it was heartbreaking that it happened”.
In a joint statement published on Facebook, US Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, the Secretary’s Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Joel Rayburn, US Deputy Assistant of State and Special Envoy for Syria said the two deceased men “lived their lives as heroes.”
“Raed and Hamud were patriots and activists who dedicated their lives to building a better future for Syria and the Syrian people. As symbols of the Syrian revolution and the best of the youth for Syria, they were among the first revolutionaries to put their creativity and skills to use to serve their people and their nation.”
The statement said “the treasonous, criminal and malicious hands responsible for their assassination cannot and will not succeed in erasing their legacy.”
Since the beginning of Syrian revolution in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrian people were killed in violence, including dozens of Syrian activists.