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France's Macron praises courage of slain Syrian radio activist Fares

Macron paid tribute to the slain activist on Twitter [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 November, 2018

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French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the killing of the Syrian pro-democracy activist who ran a radio station in Idlib as “cowardly”, in a tweet posted online.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised the courage of Raed al-Fares, a prominent Syrian activist who was gunned down along with his friend Hamoud al-Junaid in Syria.

Macron slammed the killing of the pro-democracy activist who ran a radio station in Idlib, northwestern Syria, as "cowardly", in a tweet posted online. 

"Raed al-Fares and Hamoud al-Junaid were killed in a cowardly way. They were the conscience of the revolution and peacefully stood up against the crimes of the regime and terrorists. We will not forget the resistants of Kafranbel," Macron said on Twitter.

Fares' radio station, Fresh Radio, provided independent news and satirised both President Bashar al-Assad and opposition insurgents.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said unidentified gunmen shot and killed Fares, along with his friend Junaid, in Kafranbel, home to his radio station.

In tributes posted online, he was described as a "true hero" who "stood against any authoritarianism".

Fares founded Fresh Radio in 2013 to counter "fundamentalist narratives" in Idlib, he has said, after which he was repeatedly targeted by armed groups.

IS militants raided the radio's offices on several occasions, but it was also bombarded by regime forces, he wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Times in June.

"In 2014, I almost lost my life when two armed men opened fire at me and shot me in the chest," he said.

"I was abducted four times by al-Qaeda militants and released a few days later after being tortured."

Junaid, who also worked at the radio, was an advocate for freedom of expression and the rule of law.

"I want freedom of opinion. I want to be able to speak and not be scared," he said in a video posted on Facebook earlier this year. 

More than half of Idlib and the surrounding region is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by jihadists of Syria's former al-Qaeda affiliate, while most of the rest is held by pro-Turkey rebels.

The Islamic State (IS) group also has a presence in the province.

Targeted killings and kidnappings have for months plagued Idlib, with angry residents blaming all sides.

A September deal between regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey held off a major regime assault to retake Idlib.

But a buffer zone has yet to be implemented around the region, as stipulated by the deal, after jihadis refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarised area by mid-October.

Syria's civil war has killed more than 360,000 people and sent millions fleeing from their homes since it started in 2011 with the regime's brutal repression of popular protests.

It has since evolved into a complex conflict involving world powers and jihadists.

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