PHOTO: Activist Raed Fares, seized by Jabhat al-Nusra on Sunday

UPDATE 2130 GMT: The agreement which led to the release of activist Raed Fares and journalist Hadi al-Abdallah after a 12-hour detention by Jabhat al-Nusra has been posted.

The statement says Fares was seized because of a Facebook post on Thursday which had a “Sharia defect”. In the post, the activist declares, “We are more concerned about what women wear than what they should learn. We drive the people to prayer like animals and stuff schools with sharia books.”

Al-Abdallah acknowledges that the post was a violation of Sharia, while Jabhat al-Nusra acknowledges that the raid was wrong and agrees to return all equipment, with compensation for any damage.

Fares has been released on condition that he appears before a Sharia court, with al-Abdallah acting as a guarantor.


Hadi al-Abdallah has also posted an account on Facebook of the Jabhat al-Nusra raid.

UPDATE 1900 GMT: Pro-opposition Radio Fresh and ANA Press both report that both Raed Fares and Hadi al-Abdallah have been freed.

Fares after his release:


The jihadist faction Jabhat al-Nusra detained leading activists in Idlib Province in northwest Syria on Sunday morning.

Among those seized are Raed Fares, known for his work in the protests in Kafranbel since 2011, and frontline journalist Hadi al-Abdallah.

At 7:30 a.m., Jabhat al-Nusra demanded entry into the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus, led by Fares. All employees were allowed to leave except al-Abdallah, who is in an al-Nusra prison, and Fares, whose location is unknown. The jihadists then seized computers, electronics, and cameras from the opposition’s Radio Fresh.

Radio Fresh was raided in January 2015 by Jabhat al-Nusra, which falsely accused the station of printing a newspaper expressing solidarity with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after it was attacked by the Islamic State.

Graffiti on the wall of the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus, “Confiscated by Jabhat al-Nusra”:


The ransacked room of Fares and al-Abdallah:

The Kafranbel protests achieved international prominence because of their posters and cartoons highlighting the abuses of the Assad regime, the killing of civilians by the regime and allies such as Russia, and the inaction of the international community.

On Saturday, the rally had highlighted the failure to deal with starvation in Madaya, the town in Damascus Province where thousands are threatened by a six-month regime siege:

In November, Fares visited the US to highlight the continuing opposition to the Assad regime. At the same time, he also noted the challenge of hardline Islamists in opposition-held areas.

Journalist al-Abdallah is one of the leading battlefield correspondents in Syria, covering the frontline of the rebel advance through Idlib Province last spring.

Al-Abdallah during rebel attacks in northern Idlib Province in August:

In his last message on Twitter in English on Saturday, al-Abdallah had joined Fares in criticizing the UN for failure to deal with the crises in Madaya and other opposition-held territory blockaded by the Syrian military:

A profile of al-Abdallah in March: