Raed Fares with his sons at a demonstration in Kafranbel, Syria, September 2018


An image from the funeral of Raed Fares:

Raed Fares and Hamoud Juneid, two of the leading civil society activists in Syria, were assassinated on Friday.

Saleh and Juneid were killed by masked gunmen in Kafranbel in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

The two men were instrumental in Kafranbel’s iconic protests from 2011, with banners that drew international attention and broadcasts from Radio Fresh. The demonstrations highlighted the goals of the Revolution, challenged the war crimes of the Assad regime, and criticized the international community for its failure to protect Syria’s civilians.

Fares was active in demonstrations throughout this autumn.

In June, he wrote in The Washington Post that the US, which has frozen backing of recovery and civil society in northern Syria, should resume support of Radio Fresh: “The terrorist groups (and the regime) see us as a direct threat..Without groups like Radio Fresh to provide alternative messages, another generation will take up arms.”

In 2014 he was shot twice in the chest by Islamic State gunmen, breaking six bones and piercing a lung. Within weeks, he returned to activism: “The message is that when we started our revolution, we broke the barrier of fear. We’re not afraid. We just want to reach our aims: dignity and freedom. And we will get them.”

The offices in Kafranbel were targeted by regime bombardment and by Islamist extremists, who abducted and tortured Fares several times.

But among the attacks, bombings, and killings by the Assad regime and by the jihadists of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Farespersisted:

Recent history has shown us again and again that enduring peace depends on the existence of a vibrant civil society and free political discourse, a marketplace of ideas where new voices can challenge dictatorship and terrorism….

We haven’t given up. We’re still broadcasting our independent coverage of the Syrian revolution, countering terrorism and advocating tolerance.

Friends begged Fares to leave Kafranbel but they recalled his answer, “What can they do? Kill me? Let them kill me. I’m not going to leave and leave them the country.”