IS claims attack that wounded Syrian journalist in Turkey

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2016 11:23 AM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Islamic State group on Monday claimed responsibility for seriously wounding a Syrian journalist in an attack in Turkey.

Mohammed Zahir al Sherqat who, worked for Halab Today TV, was shot in the neck from close range while walking in the street in the city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, on Sunday. He was hospitalized in serious condition while his assailant escaped, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The agency said he had received death threats from the IS.

Barry Abdulattif, a Syrian activist from the city of Al-Bab and Sherqat's friend, told The Associated Press that the journalist was in a "deep coma" following the attack.

The IS claimed the attack through the IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency's official Twitter account, which said Sheqat "used to present anti-Islamic State programs."

It was the fourth attack on a Syrian journalist in Turkey claimed by the extremist group. Last year, two journalists were found with their throats slit while third journalist was shot dead in the street in Gaziantep. The attacks have prompted a media advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders, to urge the Turkish authorities to protect exiled Syrian journalists in the country.

Sherqat, a native of Al-Bab, was an imam who studied Islamic Law at Damascus University, Abdulattif said. When the Syrian civil war started, he was a founding member of the local coordinating committee of Al-Bab and a field organizer of demonstrations against the Syrian regime.

When extremist groups appeared in Al-Bab, first Al-Nusra and then ISIS, he opposed them, Abdulattif said.

He came to Turkey in 2014 and started to work with Halab Today. His programs took a stance against extremist groups.