Snipers kill local, French journalists in Syria

Published Friday, January 18, 2013

A sniper killed a Syrian reporter affiliated with Al Jazeera in southern Syria on Friday, the pan-Arab television network said, in the second such shooting of a journalist in two days in the conflict-swept country.

The killings take the death toll of reporters who have died in Syria's 22-month conflict to at least 20, according to a count by AFP and Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, or RSF.

"Mohammed Hourani was shot dead by a regime sniper in Basra al-Harir in the province of Daraa, while he was covering the clashes there," Al Jazeera said in a statement.

Before joining Al Jazeera, Hourani was an outspoken supporter of the anti-government uprising, the broadcaster said.

Amateur video posted online and distributed by activists showed the moment that Hourani was killed.

Wearing a beige jumper and carrying a microphone embossed with Al Jazeera's logo, he stood in a line of rebel fighters running one by one across a muddy alley, ducking as they sped to avoid being shot by snipers positioned nearby.

Hourani was hit as a sniper fired at least three shots, and fell to the ground.

Video shows Hourani’s final moments:

He was the second reporter to be killed by snipers in 24 hours in strife-torn Syria.

On Thursday, Belgian-born French journalist Yves Debay was shot dead by sniper fire in the northern city of Aleppo, a Turkish official said on Friday.

He was taken to Turkey where medical staff pronounced him dead after being shot once in the head and once in the chest on Thursday.

"France condemns this odious act and expresses its condolences, its sympathy and its solidarity with the friends and family of Yves Debay," French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.

Debay had been working for Assaut, a French magazine he founded and which specializes in military affairs.

According to French media, Debay was born in 1954 in what was then the Belgian Congo and later took French nationality. A former soldier, he later moved into journalism where he specialized in war reporting.

Last year, Syria was the most dangerous country by far for journalists with 28 killed, according to the watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists. Several reporters are also missing in Syria after being abducted during the uprising.

Rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad have kidnapped journalists suspected of supporting the government, or who have published material implicating them in war crimes.

Pro-government militias have also detained journalists, including an NBC News team who were held for five days in December.

Dozens of others were killed in relentless fighting across different parts of the country Friday.

The United Nations estimates that over 60,000 people have been killed in Syria's 22-month-long uprising.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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