BEIRUT (AP) — Two Syrian activists, including one belonging to a collective that reports on Islamic State atrocities were found slain in a city in southern Turkey on Friday, the group said, in a rare attack in Syria's northern neighbor.
The Raqqa-based activist collective — called "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently — did not say when Ibrahim Abdul-Qadir and Fares Hamadi were killed. It blamed IS for the killings, which took place in the city of Sanliurfa.
Another Syrian activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said the two were known activists from Raqqa.
There was no immediate comment from Turkish authorities.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said Abdul-Qadir worked as the executive director and Hamadi as head of the production department for Eye on the Homeland, a Syrian media collective. CPJ added that Abdul-Qadir was a founding member of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
"We call for an immediate and thorough investigation by Turkish authorities into these heinous murders and to bring the culprits to justice," said CPJ's Europe and Central Asia Program coordinator, Nina Ognianova. "The risks to journalists operating in Syria are well documented. These murders show how the grave risks journalists face in Syria have metastasized across the porous border with Turkey."
Islamic State militants captured the provincial capital of Raqqa in northern Syria two years ago and the city later became the de facto capital of the territory the IS controls, which encompasses a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq. Since then, the activist collective has been releasing reports and photographs from inside Raqqa.
An activist with the group refused to speak about the killings of the two activists, saying only that "our wound is still fresh." The activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for his own safety, added that they are still waiting for the results of an ongoing police investigation.
The group later issued a statement saying that Abdul-Qadir was a member of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and only identified Hamadi as "our friend."
Abdul-Qadir's Facebook page was last updated at around 4 p.m. Thursday with a video posting showing the commander of rebel group that fights against IS declaring the northern Syrian province a military zone. In the video, Abu Issa, the commander of Raqqa Revolutionary Brigade, vows to launch an attack soon to cleanse the province of IS fighters.
Earlier on Thursday, Abdul-Qadir also posted that Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently won an America Abroad Media award.
The young man has photos of himself with friends inside a mall and another having breakfast in a restaurant. Abdul-Qadir posted a photo taken while he was giving a TV interview identifying himself as Raqqa-based activist Abu Khalil.
IS did not claim responsibility for the killings, although some of its supporters praised it. One posted their photos on Twitter and tweeted: "The slaughter occurred silently, as they used to lie silently."
In July, IS shot dead two activists in the head inside Raqqa after accusing them of sending information to Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and taking pictures of IS positions.
The killings came as activists are saying that some rebel groups, as well as the main U.S.-backed Kurdish militia known as the YPG, are preparing for an offensive against IS in Raqqa. Earlier this month, U.S. cargo planes dropped small arms and ammunition to Arab groups fighting IS in northern Syria in what appeared to be preparation for the attack.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that has a network of activists around the country, said dozens of families have fled Raqqa for villages outside the city, fearing an imminent attack.
IS has carried attacks in Turkey, including two suicide bombings earlier this month that killed 102 people at a peace rally in the capital, Ankara.