On April 14, 2023, media worker Rezq Mohammad al-Abi, the editor-in-chief of the news website Tafaseel, from Kafranbel city in the southern suburbs of Idlib governorate, was arrested by Border Guard personnel from al-‘Ferqat Sultan Murad’ (The Sultan Murad Squad), a Syrian National Army (SNA) faction, along with his wife Hanan Akram al-Qasem, while they were trying to travel illegally from Turkey to the Afrin area in the northern suburbs of Aleppo governorate.
The arrest of Rezq and his wife took place without any judicial warrant being presented, with the couple being taken to an SDF detention center in Bulbul town, administratively a part of Afrin city.
On May 6, 2023, the Sultan Murad Squad refused to let members of the couple’s families visit them in Bulbul town, after their relatives received confirmation that Rezq and his wife had been taken to an undisclosed location.
Through this action, the SNA is following similar arrest policies to those used by the Syrian regime; that is to say, no arrest warrants are presented during the detention process, with the victims being arrested or more accurately abducted in streets, markets, and other public places, or in raids on the headquarters of media outlets or on civilian events, also carried out without judicial orders being presented. Rezq and his wife Hannan were denied any opportunity to contact their families orappoint a lawyer during their detention. We are concerned that they may be subjected to torture, and may go on to be classified as two more forcible disappearance cases, as with 85 percent of all detainees in Syria.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) condemns the detention of media worker Rezq and his wife, and calls for their immediate release, and for compensating them morally and materially for the damages inflicted upon them. We also condemn all violations against media workers, and call for their protection under international humanitarian law, due to their integral role in reporting facts and developments wherever they are and shedding light on the violations against civilians. The armed opposition/SNA has failed to foster a safe and stable environment for media work in the areas under their control. Many violations have been committed against media workers in these areas with no serious investigations launched to identify those responsible, and if any investigations have been launched, their findings have not been made public to the Syrian people.