Family and colleagues of two Turkish journalists missing in Syria for four days have called on the government in Ankara to help with efforts to discover their whereabouts.
Adem Ozkose, Middle East correspondent for Gercek Hayat magazine and columnist for Milat newspaper, and Hamit Coskun, a freelance cameraman, crossed into Syria from Antakya in southern Turkey a week ago.
Families of the two journalists last heard from them four days ago, when they called to say they had reached the Syrian city of Idlib, where government forces on Wednesday re-established full control of the city following days of deadly clashes with opposition fighters.
Milat newspaper said on Wednesday: “We expect an urgent statement from Syrian authorities” about the crew’s whereabouts, while also seeking help from Turkish foreign ministry officials to locate the two.
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said his ministry was exerting “intensive efforts” to find the missing journalists, Turkish broadcaster NTV television reported.
“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating in Syria,” he said, and warned Turkish citizens to be “extremely careful” if they travel to the neighbouring country after the latest crackdown by the Damascus government.
Milat Degirmenci, the Ankara representative of Milat, spoke to journalists on Tuesday evening after families of the duo gathered in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Turkey’s capital.
He said that the MFA was “closely monitoring the situation and trying to gather more information before making a statement” on the missing Turkish journalists.
The group that gathered at the MFA then went to Syria’s embassy in Ankara to demand the safe return of the two, Al Jazeera sources said.
“Journalists, aid volunteers or civilians cannot be harmed anywhere in the world,” Eyup Gokhan Ozekin, speaking on behalf of family and colleagues, said in a statement.
“We fear for the lives of our friends. We expect an explanation from Syrian officials.”
Ozekin said that the group would keep gathering outside the Syrian embassy until they heard something about the journalists.
Speaking outside the embassy, Muhammed Halil Kaya, said that “they (the missing journalists) were there to let the public know of the savagery going on inside Syria”.
Government troops began an assault on Idlib province near the Turkish border on March 9 and appear to have now regained control of the province’s eponymous main city.
More than one hundred people are confirmed dead in Idlib and hundreds more are missing.
The journalists’ apparent disappearance has prompted an outcry online. Here are some of those reactions from Twitter:
– Additional reporting by Ayse Alibeyoglu in Doha; Huseyin Narin and Nigar Hacizade in Turkey.