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Two more media workers killed in Syria

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, Aug 22, 2012 - Following a month of escalating violence in Syria, the International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the failure of involved parties to stanch the deadly violence against journalists, which resulted in the deaths of yet another journalist and a citizen reporter today.

"Once again, we reiterate that journalists and citizen reporters must be able to report on the conflict without fear of attack or repercussions, regardless of which media they work for," said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. His comments came in response to the recent trend of attacks against journalists from pro-government media, in addition to the established pattern of violence against citizen reporters aligned with the opposition and foreign correspondents.

Musab Mohamed Said al-Oudaallah, a reporter for the sports and cultural section of the government newspaper Tishreen, was killed today by Syrian regime forces during a raid at his home in Naher Eisha in Damascus, according to information received by IPI from the Media Freedoms Committee of the Syrian Journalists' Association today. The Association further reported that "media activist" Omar Hamed Al-Zamil was killed by shelling in the city of al-Hirak in Daraa province today.

Earlier this week, a Japanese reporter for Tokyo-based Japan Press news agency was killed in the Syrian city of Aleppo, news sources reported yesterday. Mika Yamamoto was killed on Monday when the anti-regime forces she was travelling with were fired on by what appeared to be government soldiers, Yamamoto's colleague Kazutaka Sato reportedly told Japanese media. Yamamoto, described as a veteran war correspondent, had been with the news agency since 1995 and had covered conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two reporters, who had been travelling with Yamamoto at the time of her death - Palestinian reporter Bashar Fahmi and his Turkish cameraman Cuneyt Unal of the US-funded al-Hurra TV channel - have since disappeared. Rebels leaders told AFP that they were being held by loyalists.

Journalists are facing an increasingly deadly working environment in the country, but recent weeks have seen a rise in attacks on government-aligned media, including killings and kidnappings and a recent trend of releasing degrading videos of kidnap victims.

On Aug. 13, Ahmad Sattouf, Syrian correspondent for the Iranian pro-Assad satellite broadcaster Al Alam, was kidnapped in the city of Homs, on his way home near Tadmour Square. Family and colleagues have not heard of him since, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

On Aug. 11, Ali Abbas of state news agency SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency) was assassinated at his home in Damascus by 'members of an armed terrorist group', as IPI documented from news reports at the time. Abbas had been the head of the Agency's International News Department.

On Aug. 10, TV presenter Yara al-Saleh, anchor Abdullah Tubara, driver Hussam Imand and a camera man were reportedly kidnapped as they were covering clashes in Al Tal for pro-government TV channel Al Ikhbariya. While three of them were later released, cameraman Hatem Abu Yehya was killed, according to a report from the Syrian Arab News Agency.

The Al Qaeda-linked Islamist Al Nusra Front claimed to have beheaded Mohamed al-Saeed, a presenter for Syrian state TV, on Aug. 4. He had been kidnapped on July 19, Al Jazeera reported on its website.

Also on Aug. 4, State TV reporter Kareem Shibani was reportedly wounded while covering clashes in Damascus, Reporters Without Borders reported.

A cameraman from the same network was kidnapped on Aug. 3. Talal Janbakeli was filming in Damascus when he was kidnapped by armed men from the Haroun al-Rashid Brigades rebel group, press freedom groups reported.

Attacks have not been restricted to individuals, but have, in some cases, targeted media outlets as well. In June, seven people were killed in a gun attack on Al Ikhbariya, as IPI recorded at the time. On Aug. 6, the same day that Prime Minister
Riad Hijab announced his defection, a bomb went off at the Syrian state TV and radio building in Damascus, wounding three people. However, broadcasting was not interrupted and hours later the station announced that the prime minister had been fired, according to the BBC.

According to the IPI Death Watch , 37 journalists and citizen reporters have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the year. After Gilles Jacquier, Remy Ochlik, Marie Colvin and Anthony Shadid (who died of an asthma attack as he pproached the Syrian-Turkish border), Mika Yamamoto was the fifth foreign journalist to lose her life in Syria while reporting on the conflict.

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