Middle East

Islamic State crisis: Naji Jerf murder suspects held in Turkey

Women hold pictures of film maker Naji Jerf, who was killed on December 27, during his funeral in Gaziantep (28 December 2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Jerf's funeral was held at the end of last month in Gaziantep

Three people have been arrested in Turkey over the murder of an anti-Islamic State activist and filmmaker who was shot dead in broad daylight, state media have reported.

A court in the city of Gaziantep remanded the main suspect and his two accomplices in custody prior to their trial, the Anatolia news agency said.

No other details were provided as to their identity.

Naji Jerf, 38, was shot by a silenced pistol in Gaziantep last month.

The southern city is near the Syrian border.

Vocal critic

Mr Jerf was the film director for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group of journalists who risk their lives daily to report on IS abuses in the northern Syrian city.

Image copyright RBSS
Image caption Naji Jerf reported on Islamic State abuses in Syria
Image copyright Map

It is the second murder of a member of the group in as many weeks, after Ahmad Mohammed al-Mousa was killed in Syria.

Mr Jerf was a vocal critic of Islamic State (IS). He directed two recent documentaries about the group - one about the killing of Syrian activists in Aleppo, the other about the work of RBSS.

He was also a father of two young daughters. A friend of Mr Jerf said the filmmaker's family had been granted asylum in France.

As well as his work with RBSS, Mr Jerf was editor-in-chief of Hentah, a Syrian magazine that reports on the "daily lives of Syrian citizens", according to the publication's website.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the murder which took place in central Gaziantep.

Risking all to report on the Islamic State

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Media captionCitizen journalists from Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) describe life in the IS-controlled city

No group has said it carried out the murder but in October IS was blamed for the murder in Turkey of Ibrahim Abdul Qader, who was beheaded in the southern city of Urfa.

Another journalist, Fares Hamadi, was killed in the same attack. IS subsequently published a video warning: "You will not be safe from the knife of the Islamic State. Our hand will reach you wherever you are."

RBSS is one of the few independent sources of news left in Raqqa. The city, which IS has controlled since August 2013, serves as its de facto capital.

RBSS has citizen-journalists operating inside Raqqa, despite IS making membership of the group punishable by death. RBSS was honoured last month by the CPJ.