Syrian opposition targets journalists it deems pro-govt – Amnesty on RT crew attack

The shelling of RT’s crew is another indication that Syria is becoming one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world, the UN and international watchdogs said, urging the attacks on the media to stop.

Amnesty International has called reports of the RT crew being attacked “unfortunate news,” expressing interest in documenting the incident. 

Syria campaigner at Amnesty International, Diana Semaan, told RT that, according to the watchdog’s data, abuses against journalists have been carried out by all sides involved in the Syrian conflict.

“The armed opposition groups, including Islamic State, have been targeting journalists and media workers in various governorates in Syria,” she said.

The attacks on convoys and the execution of both foreign and local journalists have been “for their freedom of expression, for reporting on violations committed by these armed groups,” Semaan explained.

“Those attacks are basically carried out against journalists, who are perceived to be reporting on armed group violations; who are basically seen as supporters of the Syrian government,” she said.

The campaigner stressed that the decline in violence against the media this year was “basically for one reason, which is that journalists are no longer going to Syria to report on violations … due to the attacks that happened in 2014 and 2013.”

In an earlier statement, Amnesty International said that it had “documented a number of incidents where non-state armed groups have deliberately targeted journalists and other media workers in Syria, including by abducting journalists perceived to be allied with the Syrian government or producing reports criticizing the armed opposition and by shelling civilian buildings in which media workers were working.”

“Islamic State has also summarily executed several foreign journalists abducted in Syria,” Amnesty International added.

Two RT crew members and a TASS journalist were injured when an anti-tank shell hit their press convoy near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday.

The International News Safety Institute (INSI) told RT that the attack “underlines the vulnerability of media workers operating in Syria.”

“Journalists are fast becoming the frontline in the region, with local journalists and freelancers most at risk,” the INSI said in an e-mailed response.

The organization stressed that “it is absolutely unacceptable to deliberately target a journalist” for any party involved in the conflict.

With seven media workers killed in the country in 2015, Syria has become “one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a reporter,” it stressed.

“The safety situation for journalists there has become so bad that many news outlets are refusing to take stories from certain parts of Syria to discourage journalists from entering,” the institute added. 

INSI urged all media workers in Syria “to take extreme safety precautions and remember that no story is worth dying for.” 

With seven media workers killed in the country in 2015, Syria has become “one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a reporter,” it stressed.

“The safety situation for journalists there has become so bad that many news outlets are refusing to take stories from certain parts of Syria to discourage journalists from entering,” the institute added.

INSI urged all media workers in Syria “to take extreme safety precautions and remember that no story is worth dying for.”

The shelling of the RT crew was not left unnoticed by the United Nations, with the organization’s deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, saying that the UN remains “concerned” about the attacks on the press in Syria.

READ MORE: 2 RT reporters injured on Syria-Turkey border by anti-tank shell (VIDEO)

The UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq has also commented on the incident, saying that the United Nations remains “concerned” about the attacks on journalists in Syria.

“We want them to stop, as well as attacks on civilians as a whole,” Haq told TASS.

RT English channel correspondent Roman Kosarev, his RT Arabic colleague, Sargon Hadaya, and TASS reporter Alexander Yelistratov safely arrived in Moscow on Thursday.

Kosarev suffered a concussion, Hadaya had pieces of shrapnel lodge in his back and leg, while Yelistratov also got his hand injured by shrapnel in the attack.

The crew only survived thanks to the body armor that they were wearing – and the Syrian army who promptly escorted them back to the base, Kosarev said.

The missile, which landed near the journalists’ car, apparently, came from the Al Nusra-controlled town of Salma some 2.5 kilometers away.

The trio said that they were clearly marked as media workers, with their blue helmets and blue jackets clearly visible to those who had fired the missile.

The journalists added that they had been threatened by local terrorist groups, who posted their photos online, promising to kill the reporters.