Syrian TV reporter killed covering conflict

Government blames death of Yara Abbas, war correspondent for state-owned Al-Ikhbariya, on rebel attack in Qusayr.

Handout photo of al-Ikhbariya news channel reporter Yara Abbas
Sniper fire reportedly killed Abbas, a prominent Syrian journalist, near the Lebanese border [Reuters]

A Syrian TV correspondent working for a pro-government channel has been killed while covering clashes near the border with Lebanon, the country’s Information Ministry says, in the latest death of a journalist in Syria’s more than two-year-old conflict.

Yara Abbas, a prominent female war reporter for state-owned Al-Ikhbariyah TV, was attacked by rebels near the town of Qusayr in Homs province, the ministry said in a statement carried by Syrian state television.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group also reported her death on Monday, saying she “was killed by a sniper close to Dabaa airport”, north of Qusayr.

The group said other members of Abbas’s crew were wounded, without providing further details.

Syrian TV flashed a breaking news alert which read: “The ministry of information … announces that colleague Yara Abbas has been added to the ranks of the martyrs, killed by terrorists near Dabaa airport.”

The Syrian army, backed by fighters from the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, began an assault nine days ago on Qusayr, where rebels hold sway.

Both the rebels and the regime view the town as a key strategic prize, because it lies near the Lebanese border and by the road connecting Damascus to the coast.

Journalists targeted

Abbas was a common sight for Syrian television viewers. She frequently reported alongside Assad’s forces from the frontline of Syria’s conflict.

Dozens of journalists have been killed, wounded or kidnapped since Syria’s crisis began in March 2011.

Over that time, more than 94,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Journalists covering the conflict, on both the government and rebel sides of the front lines, have been caught in the crossfire – or targeted – on several occasions.

Syria’s state-run Al-Thawra daily reported last week that nine journalists and 23 other crew members working for state-run media have been killed in the country over the past two years.

Several foreign reporters also have lost their lives covering the conflict, including award-winning French TV reporter Gilles Jacquier, photographer Remi Ochlik and Britain’s Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin.

Anthony Shadid, a correspondent for The New York Times, died after an apparent asthma attack while on assignment in Syria.

Journalists have also increasingly become targets for kidnapping. In August last year, a crew from Al-Ikhbariyah was abducted by anti-government forces before being later rescued by Syrian troops.

In December, Richard Engel, NBC correspondent, and his crew said they were detained by pro-regime fighters in northern Syria.

James Foley, an American journalist, has been missing in Syria since late last year.

UK-based rights monitor Amnesty International said in May that Syria’s government and elements of the rebel movement were deliberately targeting journalists, releasing a report which doled out blame for both sides in the country’s conflict.

Source: News Agencies