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Remembering my friend, Yasser

Reflecting on the life and death of cameraman Yasser Faisal al-Joumaili in Syria.
Last modified: 6 Dec 2013 14:56
Joumaili on assignment, shooting images of women PKK fighters in the Qandil Mountains [Omar al-Saleh/Al Jazeera]

Joumaili was the eighth foreign journalist to have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011. He was kidnapped by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) while on his way out of Syria and executed in the northwestern border province of Idlib on Wednesday. Read our news story here: Iraqi cameraman executed in Syria. Journalist Omar al-Saleh, a friend and colleague of Joumaili, writes of hearing the news.

Yasser, my dear brother, please wake up.

I know from those who saw your body that it looks like you fell into a deep sleep. They told me your face was shining and looked peaceful.

I saw you in my dream after learning the news of your death. You told me: "They killed me."

You said it while laughing.

We laughed a lot, and sometimes argued, during our assignments together. Now you have left me weeping alone.

I can't find words to describe your great work and dedication.

Our last trip was to the Qandil Mountains, meeting the new PKK leaders. It was Ramadan, we were fasting - and it was extremely hot.

Awful conditions

We had enjoyed a treat of two and a half nights in the mountains with the PKK fighters. Even amid the awful conditions, you were having fun filming the female fighters.

You gave me a wealth of beautifully shot footage - enough to make a whole documentary.

I still remember your face when the PKK commander asked you to join them.

''I am married and have three children to look after,'' you said.

We laughed. But now you have left your lovely wife and children with no-one to look after them.

I also remember when the Iraqi army turned us back, preventing us entering Fallujah to report on anti-government protests.

Free ride home

You hired a cab, offering an old woman a free ride home if she covered your camera with her black abaya.

We filmed tens of stories and you earned the respect of everyone you worked with. You worked hard and took risks.

But I know your story. And I know why you did what you did. You had a mission. And it was your family and their wellbeing.

I know you were always a dedicated cameraman who wanted to capture everything, to tell the untold stories of misery, violence, injustice and war.

You left this world so early but with such a huge legacy.

Your memory will be forever in my heart and my mind. I know you won't be happy until you are buried in your beloved Fallujah - "the city of true men", you used to tell me about.

Rest in peace, Yasser.

Read Al Jazeera's roving correspondent Imran Khan's memories of Yasser, a friend and colleague, here: Adieu Yasser Faisal al-Joumaili

Read Al Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent Jane Arraf's tribute here: The dashing Yasser