Syrian activists freed after al-Qaeda 'arrest'

Syrian activists freed after al-Qaeda 'arrest'
Anti-regime Syrian activists and journalists Raed Fares and Hadi Abdullah have been freed 12 hours after being detained by al-Nusra Front militants.
2 min read
10 January, 2016
The journalists were taken from their offices in Idlib province [Kafrnabel Syrian Revolution Facebook page]

Two renowned Syrian media activists working in rebel-held territories have been released by Syria's al-Qaeda's affiliate after being arrested by the group early Sunday morning.

Raed Fares and Hadi Abdullah were both taken from their office in Idlib province by al-Nusra Front militants.

"Al-Nusra Front kidnapped at 6:55am activists Hadi al-Abdallah and Raed Fares in the offices of Fresh FM where they work and live in Kafranbel," said Soner Taleb, head of media at the Syrian National Coalition told AFP.

A Syrian activist said on social media that the fighters forced their way into the Union of Revolutionary Bureau, a civil society media group based in Kafranbel, a town described as the "heart of the revolution".

Staff were asked to leave the office but both Fares and Abdullah were taken away in separate cars. Abdullah is said to be held at a Nusra prison while Fares' fate is still unknown.

The activist said that the al-Qaeda group also closed Radio Fresh - an anti-regime radio station - and confiscated cameras, broadcasting equipment and electronics.

Fares worked as the station's director and had previously been arrested by Nusra for Fresh Radio's "secular tendency and support of apostates".

Abdallah was known for his involvement in anti-regime protests and last year made a rare interview with Nusra's leader Abu Mohammed al-Jolani.

"Abdallah had used his Nusra connections to keep his freedom but this time the jihadists detained them both and destroyed and confiscated their belongings at the station," Taleb told AFP.

Fares has also escaped assassination attempts but continued to work inside Syria to highlight regime war crimes.

Secular and pro-democracy activists have been targeted by extremist rebel groups throughout the five-year war.