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Syrian women's rights activist freed by militant group in Idlib

Nour al-Shalo detained by al-Qaeda offshoot HTS since September
Nour al-Shalo holds a sign saying: "Date of detainment 19/09/2020, date of release 4/1/2021. I am good, thank you everyone". (Supplied)

Prominent Syrian journalist and human rights activist Nour al-Shalo was released from detention by militant group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) on Monday, activists told Middle East Eye. 

A source close to Shalo sent MEE a photograph of the newly released activist holding a sign saying: "Date of detainment 19/09/2020, date of release 4/1/2021. I am good, thank you everyone".

Shalo, whose work in northwestern Syria centres on deprived women and female empowerment, was seized by the al-Qaeda offshoot on 19 September over unknown charges.

The widowed mother of three was reported to be facing execution in November, though some claimed the allegations were invented by her supporters to draw attention to her detention in Syria's Idlib province.

Wafa Ali Mustafa, an activist and member of Families for Freedom, an organisation that campaigns against the enforced disappearance and detention of Syrians, expressed her joy at the news. 

She told MEE that Shalo’s release comes as a result of “petitions and statements which were made almost on a daily basis, in addition to the great effort of lawyers and activists inside Syria”.

“Nour’s release means that the fight to convey the truth and to demand our basic rights is worth all the efforts,” added Mustafa, whose father was forcibly disappeared by the Syrian government seven years ago. 

“It must mean the world to Nour’s family that she's free and reunited with them.”

'Nour’s release means that the fight to convey the truth and to demand our basic rights is worth all the efforts'

- Wafa Ali Mustafa, activist

HTS, which holds the majority of Syria's opposition-held northwest, is known for detaining multiple activists and journalists, including MEE contributor Bilal Abdul Kareem.

In November, the hashtag “save Nour”, as well as the Arabic hashtag "Freedom for Nour al-Shalo" were widely shared on social media, bringing attention to Shalo’s case.

Shalo, who is from the al-Atarib region of the Aleppo countryside, regularly uses her platform to speak out on the role of women in Syrian society.

In an interview published last year, she highlighted the need to support Syrian women.

“My work has allowed me to contribute to projects which support women professionally and intellectually. I am able to reach a large number of marginalised women in the community whether they are widows, divorcees or have lost their husbands,” she said.

MEE has reached out to Shalo for comment.