Syrian poet opposed to president is killed by Islamic State extremists
A Syrian poet and his son have been killed by the extremist group calling itself Islamic State (IS), the writers pressure group Pen International has reported. According to media reports, Mohammad Bashir al-Aani and his son Elyas were captured after a funeral and accused of “apostasy”, rights groups said. Mohammad Bashir al-Aani had published three volumes of poems and was known for his lyrical style and opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, PEN International said.
The poet, who was in his mid-50s, and his son were seized several months ago in their home town of Deir ez-Zor, where they had returned to bury Aani’s wife after she died in a Damascus hospital. They were held with around 100 others before being killed, local media and rights groups reported.
Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s writers in prison committee, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by reports that Mohammad Bashir al-Aani and his son Elyas were murdered by the militant group Islamic State which had accused them of ‘apostasy’. The deliberate murder of civilians during an armed conflict is a war crime and both those who commit them and those who order them must be brought to justice.”