Middle East

Canadian dies photographing Aleppo barrel bomb carnage

People carry a recovered body from under the rubble at a site hit by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's district of al-Sukari March 8, 2014. (REUTERS/Hosam Katan)

BEIRUT: A barrel bomb killed a Canadian photojournalist in Aleppo as he tried to document the death and destruction caused by the controversial weapons, reports said Monday.

An official from the opposition-held part of the northern city said Ali Mustafa, a freelancer who sold pictures to the SIPA and EPA agencies, died Sunday.

The opposition Aleppo Media Center also reported the death.

“Four members of the [opposition] civil defense in Aleppo and 10 other civilians were killed, and dozens of others wounded, in a barrel bomb attack launched by helicopters against the Haydariyeh roundabout in the east of Aleppo city Sunday morning,” the center said.

“A Canadian journalist, Ali Mustafa, was also killed ... as he tried to document the massacre.”

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said Mustafa, 30, died in a barrel bomb explosion as he tried to take photographs of the destruction caused by an earlier blast.

“Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Canadian freelance photographer Ali Mustafa was killed by a barrel bomb ... while photographing the death and destruction caused by an earlier bomb,” it said.

The Paris-based organization said seven other people were killed.

The Syrian government has been accused of dropping barrels packed with explosives and scrap metal in a months-long campaign that has killed scores, mainly in residential areas of Aleppo.

Canada’s Foreign Ministry said it was aware of reports that one of its nationals had been killed in Syria.

Mustafa’s sister, Justina Rosa Botelho, confirmed his death on her Facebook page, mourning her younger sibling.

“[I] Hope the world will understand what an angel my brother was. He cared more for others than himself,” she wrote.

In an interview last year about his decision to cover Syria, the world’s most dangerous conflict for journalists, Mustafa said he “could not ignore this ongoing human tragedy.”

“Syrian people feel abandoned by the world. They are asking for our solidarity,” he said.

Reporters Without Borders said Mustafa was the ninth foreign journalist to have been killed while covering the Syrian conflict.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 11, 2014, on page 8.




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