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Syrian journalist attacked by IS group in Turkey dies

AP , Tuesday 12 Apr 2016
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 A Syrian journalist who was shot in the Turkish city of Gaziantep in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group died from his wounds Tuesday, a close friend said.

Mohammed Zahir al-Sherqat died in a hospital in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, according to his friend Barry Abdulattif, a Syrian activist.

Sherqat, who worked for Halab Today TV, was shot in the neck from close range on Sunday while walking on a street.

Friends told the AP that the journalist had received death threats as recently as two months ago from IS group extremists.

IS claimed the attack on Monday via the IS group-affiliated Aamaq news agency, which said Sherqat "used to present anti-Islamic State programs."

It marks the fourth assassination of a Syrian journalist in Turkey claimed by the extremist group.

Last year, two journalists were found with their throats slit in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa while a third journalist was shot dead in the street in Gaziantep. The attacks have prompted media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders to urge Turkish authorities to protect exiled Syrian journalists in the country.

"The situation is very bad, we don't feel safe," Abulattif said. "We know there are a lot of sleeper IS group cells in Turkey and elsewhere but it is not easy to catch them."

Sherqat came to Turkey in 2015 after surviving an assassination attempt in Syria and started to work with Halab Today. His programs took a stance against extremist groups.

Sherqat, a native of the Syrian town of Al-Bab, was an imam who studied Islamic Law at Damascus University, Abdulattif said. When the Syrian revolution started in 2011, he was a founding member of the local coordinating committee of Al-Bab and a field organizer of demonstrations against the Syrian regime. He later formed the Abu Bakr Brigade which fought under the banner of the opposition Free Syrian Army.

When extremist groups Al-Nusra and IS  group appeared in Al-Bab, Sherqat opposed them, according to Abdulattif, who is also a native of the town.

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