BY Committee to Protect Journalists

Syrian journalist killed in airstrike in eastern Ghouta

Abdul Rahman Ismael Yassin, a reporter for the pro-opposition Hammouriyeh Media Office, died from injuries sustained in a February 20 airstrike in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta area outside of Damascus, according to his employer and the Syrian Journalists Association.

Yassin was hit by shrapnel from a barrel bomb en route to a hospital where he had planned to report on the effects of Assad-aligned forces' airstrikes on Hammouriyeh, according to Abdulmonam Eassa, a freelance photographer for Agence France-Press (AFP) and the Hammouriyeh and Ghouta Media Centers.

The shrapnel seriously injured Yassin's head and stomach; ongoing shelling prevented the journalist from being immediately transferred to the hospital. By the time Yassin reached the Hammouriyeh hospital, his heart had stopped and doctors were unable to revive him, according to Eassa, who was at the hospital at the time.

"Abdul Rahman Ismael Yassin only wanted to ensure that the world understood the suffering of the people of eastern Ghouta. For that journalistic pursuit, he paid the ultimate price," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "We call on the Syrian government to cease hostilities in eastern Ghouta and guarantee the safety of all civilians, including journalists."

Eastern Ghouta has been under constant shelling, airstrikes, and rocket fire from Assad forces and their allies since February 18; at least 403 have been killed and 2,116 wounded in the offensive, according to the London-based human rights group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

According to Eassa, Yassin had been working as a journalist since 2011 when the conflict in Syria began. The journalist primarily documented how the conflict affected his hometown of Hammouriyeh.

In a statement released on February 22, the Syrian Journalists' Association said that at least 75 journalists and media professionals are currently under threat in eastern Ghouta due to the Assad forces' escalating military campaign and indiscriminate attacks.

Syria is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. At least 116 journalists have been killed there since the conflict began in 2011, according to CPJ research.