Kurdish fixer and journalist Bakhtiyar Haddad who died in Mosul on June 19, 2017. Photo: Bakhtiyar Haddad Facebook account
MOSUL, Iraq — A planted bomb exploded near four journalists, hitting three French nationals and a Kurd in the troubled Old Mosul district on Monday, as Iraqi forces push ISIS out of the group's last and symbolic holdout in the city.
The Kurdish journalist, Bakhtiyar Haddad, who worked with the French team as a fixer and interpreter, was killed in the bombing, a friend of Haddad told Rudaw.
The other three journalists were wounded and they are now receiving treatment at a US base in the town of Qayyara in southern Nineveh Province.
Two of the injured French reporters have been identified as Veronique Robert and Stephane Villeneuve, according to France 2 television. The two were seriously wounded, Reuters reported citing a diplomatic source. The third, a freelance reporter who has not been identified, was lightly injured.
Posts on his Facebook page show Haddad, 41, helping a French-language weekly magazine to publish photos of ISIS militants of French nationality.
“Not everybody can find the photos of French ISIS militants who are in Mosul,” read his last Facebook post on Thursday. “[Only] experts can do it. This is again helping the Republic of France to find them again. Some of these people are back in France. The Paris Match magazine got these photos through me.”
French Special Forces enlisted Iraqi forces to hunt and kill French nationals who had joined ISIS in Iraq, according to Iraqi and French officers cited in a Wall Street Journal reported on May 29.
A native of Erbil, Haddad published a photo of himself on Facebook alongside a poem that he said his late father wrote to celebrate his “pride” in his native city.
The poem, originally written in Kurdish, is also published in Arabic and English in the World Heritage listed ancient citadel of Erbil.
An excerpt reads as follows:
You were the fortified Citadel for Lions
A shelter and refuge for strangers
As captivating and beautiful as my beloved
The crown on everyone's head
The Metro Center for Journalists Rights and Advocacy stated that “one more journalist became a victim to spreading the truth.” It added that Haddad had been injured three times before as he covered the war in Mosul.
The Kurdish media advocacy group issued a written statement on the death of Haddad. It said that he had worked for a number of French media outlets, including his recent work as a translator with France 1 and 2 channels in Mosul, and that he also used to work as a translator with the French consulate in Erbil.
His father, Abdullah Haddad, was also a journalist and a writer, Metro said.
“Unfortunately no party helps and guides journalists, nor warns them about the dangers in these areas regarding planted bombs and other dangers,” Haddad’s friend, Ahmad Anwar Jaf, also a journalist, was quoted as saying by Metro.
Jaf said that media coordination is being done in a “random way” adding that though the Iraqi War Media Cell is there to act as facilitator, “everyone is left on their own.”
This is the third confirmed killing of a journalist in conflict in Iraq in 2017.
Rudaw correspondent Shifa Gardi was killed while working on a story about an ISIS mass grave south of Mosul on February 25. Her cameraman, Younis Mustafa, was injured in the explosion of an IED that killed Shifa and several Hashd al-Shaabi fighters.
Nuzhian Arhan, a Turkish citizen who was working for a news agency affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), died from wounds she sustained while covering clashes between the Kurdistan Region's Peshmerga forces and the PKK-affiliate Shingal Protections Units (YBS) in Shingal, west of Mosul on March 23.
The media advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) describes Iraq as “one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists" where journalists are targeted by pro-government forces and rebel groups, including ISIS.
Photo credits: Bakhtiyar Haddad Facebook account