A well-known Syrian journalist working for a pro-government television channel was killed yesterday in a sniper attack near the country's border with Lebanon, according to international reports.
Al-Jazeera reported that Yara Abbas, 26, a war correspondent for the al-Ikhbariya television channel, was killed by opposition gunfire in an offensive by forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad. According to the Global Post, pro-government forces were attempting to recapture the area from the opposition near the al-Debaa airport, just north of Qusayr.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom-based pro-opposition group, posted a message on its Facebook page indicating that other members of Abbas' television crew were also wounded in the attack.
Syrian television said that Abbas had been targeted by “terrorists,” a term that pro-Assad media use to refer to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition forces.
“Colleague Yara Abbas, a correspondent at al-Ikhbariya, was martyred after being shot by terrorists near Al-Dabaa airport on the outskirts of Qusayr,” the state-run SANA news agency said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Times reported that al-Ikhbariya was previously targeted by rebels for its pro-government stance and that in June armed men attacked the station's former headquarters south of Damascus, killing seven people, kidnapping others and setting the studio on fire.
International Press Institute (IPI) Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to refrain from targeting journalists.
“International humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols, call for the protection of all journalists who cover an armed conflict, independent of the views expressed in their reports,” she said.
Syria is also the deadliest country for journalists so far this year. According to IPI's Death Watch, at least 11 journalists have been killed since Jan. 1. Fifty-one journalists in total have been killed in Syria since the country's crisis began in March 2011. Over that same period, more than 94,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations.