Raed Fares survived previous attempts on his life, as well as kidnappings and torture. But the citizen journalist and his colleague Hamod Jnaid have been gunned down in Idlib province.
Radio Fresh FM announced on its Facebook page on Friday that Raed Fares and Hamod Jnaid were "shot dead by unknown assailants riding in a van in the town of Kafr Nabel" in Syria's northwest province of Idlib.
The UK's Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the two men died from their injuries.
"They were famous for their criticism of rebels committing violations or arresting civilians, especially when it came to jihadist groups," the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman said. "Both have several times been detained by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham," the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria.
Fares set up Radio Fresh FM in 2013 to counter "fundamentalist narratives" in Idlib. As a result he was repeatedly targeted by armed groups.
'A humane giant'
Former US Ambassador to the UN during the Obama Administration, Samantha Power, wrote on Twitter: "A humane giant has fallen." She wrote the assassination was "devastating for his family, for Syria, and for the cause of human decency."
"In 2014, I almost lost my life when two armed men opened fire at me and shot me in the chest," Fares wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Times in June. "I was abducted four times by al-Qaida militants and released a few days later after being tortured."
Fares was targeted by militants and regime forces alike. No group has claimed responsibility for the murders of the two men.
Jnaid said in a video posted on Facebook earlier this year: "I want freedom of opinion. I want to be able to speak and not be scared."
US funding cuts
Fares had regretted the US decision to cut funds both to his radio station and to Syrian opposition groups. "As a journalist and activist, I felt I had a duty to counter the fundamentalist narratives that are spreading among people who have no other source for hope in our wartorn homeland," Fares wrote.
"If it weren't for us and other independent voices, terrorists would be the only source of information about Syria locally and internationally," he explained. "For that reason, the terrorist groups (and the regime) see us as a direct threat."
jm/msh (AP, AFP)