An Iraqi freelance cameraman killed in Syria was buried in his hometown city of Fallujah west of Baghdad, with hundreds of fellow journalists attending the ceremony.
Yasser Faysal al-Joumaili was executed by an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria and is the first foreign journalist killed by fighters in the rebel-held north, a press freedoms watchdog said.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized Yasser Faysal al-Joumaili while he was on a reporting trip in northern Syria’s Idlib province on December 4.
He was not only my brother, but he was also my friend and a colleague. We lived together for 35 years. It is not easy to lose him in the blink of an eye. He was killed by the murderers there.
Joumaili was then executed and his body later arrived in Turkey, although the exact circumstances of his death were unclear, the watchdog said in a statement.
The body of al-Joumaili was flown to Iraq and was taken immediately to his hometown of Fallujah, a former al-Qaeda stronghold in Iraq for burial on Sunday in the city’s martyrs’ cemetery.
Hundreds of mourners, including journalists, friends and relatives marched the streets of Fallujah at the funeral procession behind his flag-draped coffin carrying pictures of the slain cameraman and a banner condemning his brutal death.
“He was not only my brother, but he was also my friend and a colleague. We lived together for 35 years. It is not easy to lose him in the blink of an eye. He was killed by the murders there. There is no God but Allah. I can only say on God I rely. Allah is sufficient for me and how fine trustee He is,” said Muhannad, Yasser’s brother and a freelance photographer for Reuters.
Joumaili was from the Iraqi city of Falluja and had three children, it added. He worked for Reuters in Iraq from 2003 to 2009.
“He went without my knowledge to reveal the truth about what is going on in Syria, but the atheists, the evildoers assassinated him and assassinated the truth by his death. We can only say, we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return,” said Faysal al-Joumaili, the cameraman’s father.
“Joumaili had been working as a freelance cameraman for an unidentified Spanish media outlet in strife-torn Aleppo province for about 10 days” said Soazig Dollet, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for the Middle East and North Africa desk.
|Al Jazeera correspondents remember Yasser|
He was 34 and married with three children.
He was from the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a key battleground in the insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and had worked for Al Jazeera International and the Reuters news agency.
In recent months, ISIL has kidnapped dozens of Syrian activists and news providers, as well as several foreign journalists.
The group, which has its roots in al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate, was accused of assassinating Syrian reporter Mohammad Saeed, who worked for Al-Arabiya news channel, in his native Aleppo province in late October.
According to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, Joumaili was the eighth foreign journalist to have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011.
Twelve Syrian professional journalists and at least 91 citizen journalists have also been killed.