Bilal Abdul Kareem released after six months in Idlib jail

Bilal Abdul Kareem (second from right)

The U.S. journalist and activist Bilal Abdul Kareem has been released from six months detention by the Syrian rebel group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

HTS detained Abdul Kareem in August after he reported on allegations that the group tortured detainees inside its prisons.

Abdul Kareem has been reporting from rebel-controlled Syria since 2014 and his detention followed a string of arrests by HTS of aid workers and journalists in Idlib province.

It remains unclear whether Abdul Kareem was charged by HTS or if the group set any restrictions on his release.

Moazzam Begg, the outreach director for UK-based human rights group CAGE, said: “Delighted to announce that Bilal Abdul Kareem has been freed today after 6 months in prison. He can finally be reunited with his family and meet his daughter for the first time . May Allah bless and protect them. My thanks to all those who assisted in making this happen.”

Bilal Abdul Kareem

Abdul Kareem was detained in the Syrian town of Atmeh in August and taken to an unknown location by HTS members.

He ran the On The Ground News network in rebel-held Syria and his work has been featured by media networks including the BBC, CNN and Sky News.

Just before his arrest Abdul Kareem had been highlighting the case of Tauqir “Tox” Sharif who was taken into custody by HTS and held for several weeks. Sharif accused HTS officials of torturing him whilst he was in their custody.

Abdul Kareem has previously said he had feared execution at the hands of the Syrian government on multiple occasions for his coverage of the Syrian opposition, and also alleges that he was erroneously placed on a US “kill list” after being targeted by U.S. missiles on five separate occasions in 2016.

HTS is a coalition of opposition fighters that is considered a terrorist group in countries including the U.S. and the UK because it contains factions who formerly belonged to the al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front.

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