ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) official on Sunday said British freelance journalist John Cantlie who was kidnapped in November 2012 and used by the Islamic State for propaganda purposes might still be alive.
According to SDF director Mustafi Bali, Cantlie, who was last seen during an offensive against the Islamic State in Iraq’s Mosul, “is still alive and is moving around” Hajin town in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province.
In a tweet on Sunday, Bali said the information was unconfirmed, noting that Hajin has been under SDF control since December 2018.
Shortly after Iraqi forces retook Mosul from the Islamic State in July 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) said Iraqi Al-Sura News Agency, which cited interviews with three captured Islamic State fighters in Mosul, claimed Cantlie was killed during the offensive.
Cantlie had earlier appeared in a series of propaganda videos between September 2014 and December 2016 in different locations in Syria, including Aleppo and Kobani, and Iraq, including Mosul.
In the latest video from December 2016, recorded in Mosul, Cantlie, who looked pale and thin, criticized the US-led coalition airstrikes on the city, and the resulting civilian casualties and destruction of bridges.
In October 2017, French magazine Paris Match cited a French Islamic State fighter who said he had seen Cantlie alive in Raqqa seven or eight months earlier while the operation to retake Mosul was underway.
His father Paul Cantlie appealed for John’s return before he died in October 2014.
“I want John to know how very proud I am of him,” Paul Cantlie said, speaking from his hospital bed. “I can think of no greater joy than seeing my dear son released and allowed to return home to us.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany