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27 Jun, 2012 10:58

Syria: Attack on TV staff 'worst massacre against journalism' (VIDEO)

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi put the responsibility for killing of seven TV staffers on the EU, Arab and International organizations. He called it “the worst massacre against journalism and the freedom of media.”

Seven journalists and workers in the Syrian al-Ikhbaryia Satellite Channel were killed on Wednesday morning in an attack by an armed group targeting the headquarters of al-Ikhbaryia. The assault occurred some 20 kilometres south of the capital Damascus. They planted explosive devices at the headquarters of al-Ikhbaryia following their ransacking, and destroying the Satellite Channel studios, including the newsroom.

Photos show a heavily damaged room without a ceiling and tapes on fire amid piles of debris. An employee at the station told Associated Press that several people were wounded in the attack and guards were kidnapped. He did not give his name for fear of repercussions, but said the gunmen drove him about 200 meters away, and then he heard the explosion of the station being destroyed.  A few hours after the attack, the station was still able to broadcast. "This massacre won't go unpunished and the broadcast of the Syrian al-Ikhbaryia Satellite will not stop and we hold the EU and Arab and International organizations responsible for this massacre," Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quotes Information Minister al-Zoubi as saying.“Those who committed this crime had carried out the decision of the Arab League Council to silence the voice of Syria."Minister al-Zoubi said that this attack crowns the EU decision in Luxembourg to impose sanctions on Syrian TV and Radio in addition to the “continued campaigns of provocation against Syria.” Sara Marusek, a researcher from Syracuse University in Beirut, believes that the attack benefits the rebels. She echoed al-Zoubi by saying that Western sanctions against Syrian media outlets had virtually sanctioned this act of terror.“I cannot say if they’ve done it or not but this is definitely in their [rebels’] interests. And, really, it’s quite ironic that this station gets targeted right after the EU places sanctions on the station,” she told RT. “Sanctioning these different media outlets – and the US actually sanctions Syrian state television – it almost gives legitimacy for the rebels to attack these places and to commit these atrocious terrorist attacks against innocent people.”She also doubted that there will be any “outcry [in the West] that we see when Western journalists get caught in crossfire.”The minister’s comments on the assault come as Syria’s President Bashar Assad acknowledged that his country is now in a state of war."We live in a real state of war from all angles," he said. "When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."He was speaking on Tuesday at the first cabinet meeting of the newly sworn-in government. President Assad ordered the cabinet to direct all their efforts to beating the armed opposition.