The latest fatality was Abdel Nasser Haj Hamdan, a journalist working as a photographer for the Binnish Media Office, who was killed yesterdayin the locality of Maarat Al-Naasan, in the north of Idlib province, while covering Russian and Syrian bombing in the area.
Amjad Aktalati, a journalist who covered local military activity for his Facebook followers, was killed in Ariha, in the south of Idlib province, on 4 February. “The situation in Ariha is catastrophic,” he said in his last Facebook post.
In recent weeks, the Syrian government has stepped its bombing of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold, and a pocket of resistance in Aleppo.
“When fighting intensifies, the first victims are local journalists,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Our access to reporting on the ground depends on them because foreign journalists rarely go there. The authorities must to do everything possible to protect them."
Journalists who support the government are allowed to accompany the Syrian national army and enjoy some protection, but they too are exposed to danger. The victims have included RT Arabicreporter Wafa Shabrouney, who was wounded in Idlib when a shell left by the Jihadi group Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) exploded on 29 January.
Four journalists – Al-Alam reporter Diaa Kaddour and her cameraman Ibrahim Kahil, Sama TVreporter Kinana Alloushand Al-Kawthar TV reporter Sohaib Al-Masry– were wounded by armed opposition gunfire in Aleppo on 2 February. Three journalists working for the Syrian state news agency SANA– Shadi Halwi, George Orfelian and Shareef Abs– were wounded in similar circumstances on 12 February.
Syria is ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.