Beheaded bodies of Syria anti-IS activist, friend found in Turkey

BEIRUT (AFP) - The beheaded bodies of a Syrian activist opposed to the Islamic State group and a friend were found early Friday (Oct 30) in the southern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, his colleagues said.

Ibrahim Abdul Qader, 20, and Fares Hamadi "were found beheaded at the friend's house this morning," Abu Mohammad, a founder of the activist's "Raqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently"group, told AFP via the Internet.

RBSS, which documents abuses in areas under IS control in Syria, accused the jihadist organisation of the murders on its Facebook page.

Abdul Qader also worked as the executive director, and Hamadi as head of production, for Syrian media collective Eye on the Homeland, according to that group's Facebook profile.

According to Abu Mohammad, both men were from Raqa city, the de facto capital of IS in Syria. Hamadi was also in his early twenties.

Abdul Qader had escaped to Turkey a little over a year ago.

RBSS members had been killed inside Syria in the past, but this is the first killing outside the country, Abu Mohammad added.

Turkey's Dohan news agency reported Friday that "two Syrian journalists were beheaded" in Sanliurfa, and that seven Syrians had been arrested by Turkish police.

Sanliurfa is 55 kilometres (35 miles) from Turkey's border with Syria's Raqa province, a major IS stronghold.

Turkey has long been accused by Syrian opposition activists, Kurdish fighters and sometimes even Western partners of allowing IS members to slip back and forth across its 911-kilometre (566-mile) frontier with Syria.

Bloody bomb attacks in southern Turkey, including one in July that claimed 32 lives in Suruc, have been blamed on IS. The group has never claimed responsibility for the blasts.

'HEINOUS MURDERS'

Press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Turkey's authorities Friday to bring the murderers to justice.

"We call for an immediate and thorough investigation by Turkish authorities into these heinous murders and to bring the culprits to justice," CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a statement.

"These murders show how the grave risks journalists face in Syria have metastasised across the porous border with Turkey."

RBSS was formed in April 2014, not long after IS seized control of Raqa from other opposition groups.

The city became the first provincial capital to fall from regime control in March 2013 when an array of rebel groups took it.

IS since forced those groups out and now tightly controls the city. Activists provide a rare source of information about life in the city and surrounding province.

RBSS regularly publishes information, photos and videos about IS decrees and behaviour in Raqa, from a ban on private Internet connections to a decision to begin issuing identity cards.

Activists documenting IS abuses have regularly been targeted by the group, which deems them "infidels" punishable by death.

Shortly after the group was formed, IS carried out a campaign of arrests in Raqa, rounding up dozens of people.

At the time, the group's members insisted they would nonetheless continue their work.

"It's extremely dangerous to oppose IS... but we need to break the wall of fear," Abu Ibrahim, a founder, told AFP last year.

"We must make sacrifices, or else they will rule us for good, and that's just unacceptable."