On Februarys 26, a Syrian pro-opposition journalist was assassinated in Homs’ northern countryside which is strictly controlled by government forces.
The journalist, Mahmoud Bakur, was reportedly executed with a bullet to the head by unidentified assailants inside his house in the town of Talbiseh.
Bakur, who began his career as an opposition activist, worked as a media man for the al-Tawhid Brigade’s branch in Homs. The al-Tawhid Brigade was one of the largest Free Syrian Army factions early on in the war. Later, Bakur worked as a correspondent for the Istanbul-based, pro-opposition Syria TV.
مقتل محمود بكور مراسل تلفزيون سوريا سابقا في ريف حمص الشمالي، أهالي مدينة تلبيسة عثروا على محمود بكور مقتولا في منزله
محمود بكور كان يعتبر من أبرز الكوادر الإعلامية التي كانت تعمل في ريف حمص. pic.twitter.com/jamSAp54ue
— هادي العبدالله Hadi (@HadiAlabdallah) February 26, 2022
Talbiseh and a number of nearby towns and villages were strongholds of Syrian militants before reaching a settlement with the government in mid-2018. Under the settlement, thousands of militants handed over their weapons and joined the reconciliation process. Many others opted to leave to Turkish-occupied areas in the northern Aleppo countryside.
Bakur was one of those who refused to leave to Turkish-occupied areas after the settlement. He also advocated for joining the reconciliation process. Because of this, he was criticized by many hardliners in the Syrian opposition.
The assassination of Bakur may have been the work of radicals, who are still present in former rebel strongholds in the northern Homs countryside.
The security situation in the region has been worrying to say the least. Over the past two years, a few attacks on government service members were reported in the region. A mysterious group calling itself the Resistance Brigades in Homs claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.
Syrian authorities are already working with locals in the northern Homs countryside to ensure that an insurgency will not erupt in the region. Terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham may be trying to exploit the situation there.