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On eve of peace plan, three more journalists killed

A Syrian man walks around a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi. Two British journalists were killed this week while filming a documentary about Syrians escaping the conflict and fleeing to Turkey
A Syrian man walks around a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi. Two British journalists were killed this week while filming a documentary about Syrians escaping the conflict and fleeing to Turkey

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Syrian security forces shot and killed two freelance British journalists and wounded a third during an attack on Monday in Darkoush near the Turkish border, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Meanwhile, a Kurdish citizen journalist has been kidnapped and murdered, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi, British journalists of Algerian descent, were filming a documentary about Syrians escaping the conflict and fleeing to Turkey, reports CPJ. They were staying with several Syrian activists in a house in Darkoush in Idlib province when the Syrian army, along with plainclothes militiamen known as "Shabiha," began shooting, according to an eyewitness interviewed by CPJ.

The witness told CPJ that when the firing began, Intriri and Bledi fled the house for a time, returning to retrieve equipment when the shooting seemed to have stopped. But then Syrian forces fired at them, hitting one in the head and the other in the chest.

According to CPJ, the state-run SANA news agency portrayed the attack as an assault on terrorists trying to infiltrate Syrian territories from the Turkish border.

In a separate incident, Jawan Mohammed Qatna, an amateur photographer, was abducted by four unidentified men from his home in the eastern town of Derbassiyeh, on 26 March, reports RSF. His body, which showed signs of torture, was found three hours later in a nearby village.

Qatna, 22, was active in the Kurdish youth movement and acted as a photographer for the Free Derbassiyeh Coordination Committee. He regularly covered demonstrations in the mainly Kurdish region and supplied photographs to various media organisations.

According to CPJ, 10 journalists have been killed in Syria since November, at least five in circumstances that indicate "potential government culpability," making it the most dangerous place for journalists in the world.

The deaths come at the same time as an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough. According to news reports, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accepted a plan by the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, to end the bloodshed in Syria. The six-point plan includes commitments to ensure the freedom of movement for journalists, allow protests and release arbitrarily detained persons.

But the opposition is sceptical: the UN's death toll of the year-long conflict has reportedly passed 9,000, and some are saying the agreement is al-Assad's way of buying time to crush their uprising.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Two independent journalists killed

    Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi were in the country filming a documentary about Syrians escaping the conflict and fleeing to Turkey.

  • Kurdish citizen journalist kidnapped and murdered

    Jawan Mohammed Qatna was active in the Kurdish youth movement and covered demonstrations in the mainly Kurdish region, supplying photographs to various media organisations.



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