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EXCLUSIVE: Details of Syria activist's murder revealed by witness Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

EXCLUSIVE: Details of Syria activist's murder revealed by witness

Fares was the founder of opposition radio station Fresh FM [Twitter]

Date of publication: 26 November, 2018

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A witness to the murder of prominent Syrian activists Raed al-Fares and Hamoud al-Junaid last Friday in rebel-held Idlib province has detailed the incident to The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

A witness to the murder of prominent Syrian activists Raed al-Fares and Hamoud al-Junaid last Friday in rebel-held Idlib province has detailed the incident to The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

Ali Dandush - a colleague of the slain journalists - was in the backseat of a car carrying the men when it was ambushed by three militants unleashed a deadly volley of gunfire on them.

"At around 12 in the afternoon on Friday, Raed woke me up and told me 'we need to go somewhere'," Dandush said in an exclusive interview published on Sunday.

"Raed, Hamoud and me got into the car. They sat in the front and I was in the back seat. After the car had gone about 100 metres, Hamoud noticed that there was a van at the junction moving slowly with tinted windows," he added.

"We started moving at the same time that people were coming out of Friday prayers, so we took a side road and the van took another road but we met up again at the end of the road that we took."

He said that after around one kilometre, the car stopped so that Raed's cousin could leave.

"After we stopped a van pulled up next to us [and moved] around a metre and a half away from us. A gun quickly appeared out of the van's window and opened fire on us, then the side door opened and there were two men squatting also shooting at us."

He said that Raed and Hamoud were hit instantly but he managed to dodge out of the way of the bullets.

"I thought I had been killed with them because I couldn't move while the shooting was going on. Once I realised they had left, I quickly got up to try to save Raed and Hamoud. I found Hamoud almost dead and lying on the ground outside the car after he had gotten out. While Raed was still breathing somewhat," he said.

"I tried to carry them but I couldn't until some young men came and rushed them to hospital. Hamoud took his last breath after only around 200 metres. Raed was still breathing. I tried to wake him up but it was useless. I knew there was no hope that they would live. After 20 minutes, the doctor came out and told us they had died," he added.

Fares was the founder of opposition radio station Fresh FM and an influential figure known for his often humorous signs in English and Arabic criticising President Bashar al-Assad's regime during weekly protests at the start of the revolt.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the killings but many have pointed the finger at jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which controls more than half of Idlib.

Several hundred people attended funerals for the slain activists in their hometown of Kafrnabal on Friday afternoon.

The US, UK and France have all mourned the loss of the activists who were seen as symbols of the 2011 uprising.

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