Syria: Human rights defender Raed Fares assassinated along with Hamoud Jneed


On 23 November 2018, human rights defender Raed Fares and media activist Hamoud Jneed were shot dead by unknown assailants wielding machine guns in Kafranbel, in a rebel-held area near Idlib, northwestern Syria. Fares, who founded the Kafranbel Media Centre, was well-known for his peaceful protests against the war, and for his popular “Radio Fresh” broadcasts.

The murder was premeditated because the assassins waited in a van outside the office the two men shared and then followed them before murdering them in their car.  

Fares was a popular local protest leader who wrote signs in English with colourful images to attract international attention. He campaigned for education, democracy, the rights of women and children and an end to the carnage of the war. Fares, 46 years old, leaves behind three sons. His friend Jneed was a media activist and a photographer.

Fares may have been the sole intended target. A previous assassination attempt on 29 January 2014 was unsuccessful, which Fares survived with two bullet wounds in the arm and shoulder. The perpetrators were unknown but Fares' colleagues reported that he had been receiving threats from local extremist armed groups.

A CBC journalist speculated that it was the extremists that finally killed Fares. (CBC also reposted an interview in English with Fares from 2014.)

Various media reported that Fares had been kidnapped and tortured by Da’esh on more than one occasion, but fortunately released. On 28 December 2013, militants from Da’esh attacked the Kafranbel Media Centre. The Centre was also bombed by Syrian government forces.

The murders of Fares and Jneed provoked strong grief and condemnation across social media. In Kafranbel, over 2000 people reportedly attended their funeral.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) strongly condemns the murders of Raed Fares and Hamoud Jneed and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, as too many human rights defenders and journalists have been murdered with impunity in Syria by all sides. Furthermore, GCHR calls on all parties to the war in Syria to respect the public freedoms of citizens, including the protection of freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Photo: Raed Fares (centre) with his sons Mohamad and Ahmed (credit: Raed Fares/Facebook),