AFS Mourns the Death of Syrian Activist Raed Fares
Raed Fares Embodied Syria’s Struggle for Freedom against Tyranny and Extremism
November 23, 2018
Washington, DC — Americans for a Free Syria (AFS) today condemned the assassination of U.S.-supported media activist Raed Fares and his colleague Hammoud Junayd in Idlib, Syria.
Raed Fares had been a regular target of kidnappings and assassination attempts by extremists for operating the largest independent radio station in Syria, which empowered civilian voices and challenged the authority of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates. He first became known in the earliest days of the revolution for creating banners calling for freedom in the face of the tyranny of the Assad regime and later its backers, Iran and Russia.
“Raed believed in a future for the Syrian people that was free from the corruption and violence of the Assad regime, free from the repression and terror of extremism, and free from foreign influence and control. He gave his life for that belief today,” said Kenan Rahmani, Policy Advisor at Americans for a Free Syria. “His leadership in the face of the inhumanity wrought by the Assad regime, ISIS and Al-Qaeda demands swift U.S. action to bring this war to a close.”
For years, Raed maintained that support to Syria’s civil society was the United States’ chief weapon against violent extremism, building a Free Syria “one town at a time.” Yet U.S. support for his own programming stopped flowing in June, thanks to a Trump Administration review of stabilization aid to Syria. The station has since operated sporadically, relying on donations from private individuals and organizations.
As an independent media activist and U.S. counterterror partner, Raed Fares:
- Implemented more than $3.5 million in U.S. programs aimed to counter violent extremism, until June when U.S. funding for his program was frozen;
- Reached more than 1.5 million Syrian listeners through Radio Fresh, advocating against the Assad regime, al-Qaeda, ISIS and other extremist groups alike;
- Provided media training to as many as 2,500 young Syrians in Idlib Province;
- Employed more than 650 workers, more than half of them women;
- Provided clean-water services, blood donations, food baskets and other essentials to hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians; and
- Broadcasted early-warnings of Russian/regime airstrikes targeting civilians in Idlib Province, saving countless lives.
Americans for a Free Syria (AFS) is a non-partisan, non-profit that advocates for human rights, the rule of law and U.S. national security interests in Syria.