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Syrian reporter Ahmed Rahal abducted by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham
September 13, 2019
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

On September 11, 2019 at noon, in Idlib, in northwestern Syria, four members of the militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham abducted Syrian reporter Ahmed Rahal, a reporter for the Syrian pro-civil rights opposition news website Al-Dorar al-Shamia, after raiding his home, and took him to an undisclosed location, according to news reports, a report by Rahal’s employer, and a statement by the Syrian Journalists’ Association, a local press freedom group. The militants also seized electronic devices in the raid, according to those reports.

The group has not disclosed any reason for Rahal’s detention, according to those reports. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an Al-Qaeda offshoot previously known as Al-Nusra Front, controls large swaths of territory throughout Idlib governorate, according to news reports.

An unnamed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham member cited by Al-Dorar al-Shamia disputed the characterization of the events as a raid, saying that Rahal was “arrested” by the group as part of an investigation into “a security case,” but declined to elaborate.

An unnamed source close to Rahal cited in the Syrian Journalists’ Association statement said that the journalist’s abduction was likely tied to Rahal’s criticisms of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and disagreements with its members.

The day before the raid, Rahal posted an image on his public Telegram channel featuring a Hayat Tahrir al-Sham commander who has alleged corruption, nepotism, and embezzlement within the militant group and called for reform, according to news reports.