U pdated 1 August 2017
A Russia Today (RT) correspondent was killed and a cameraman injured in a rocket attack by the Islamic State (IS) militants on Sunday 30 July in Homs province, Syria. The IFJ and its Russian affiliate the Russian Union of Journalists condemn the attack and call on journalists to take extreme caution when covering the conflict in Syria.
Khaled Alkhateb, 25 was travelling with Syrian government forces reporting on their offensive against the Islamic State near the town of Al-Sukhna when the group came under anti-tank rocket fire from IS fighters. Alkhateb and an unidentified Syrian army official were killed and RT cameraman Muutaz Yaqoub sustained minor injuries and was admitted to a nearby hospital. RT Arabic broadcaster also reported that 3 other Syrian army soldiers were injured in the attack.
Alkhateb was born in Syria in 1992. According to his social media accounts he became a stringer for RT Arabic on June 12 2017. Alkhateb had been working freelance for Zoomin.TV, Sputnik International, Syrian state television and finally RT before his death yesterday and is the first RT journalist to be killed reporting for the network.
RUJ Executive Secretary Tim Shaffir said “The death of our colleague Khaled Alkhateb in Syria is another tragic and sad occasion for all journalists, cameramen and media employees working in conflict zones. Once again we demand their safety and protection in a situation where they risk their lives daily. This is an occasion to once again pay tribute to their courage and professionalism. We mourn together with relatives and friends of our Syrian colleague and we express our condolences to his colleagues from the RT channel.”
Al-Sukhna, the last city in Homs province controlled by IS has been largely retaken by government forces as of yesterday. Syrian Army forces had begun to enter the town on Friday as IS fighters began retreating from the area. Al Sukhna is around 70km northeast of the town of Palmyra, the site of the ancient ruins under siege by IS since early 2015.
“We are appalled by yet another death of a journalist in Syria,” said IFJ president Philippe Leruth. “Our thoughts are with Khaled Alkhateb’s family, loved ones and colleagues. The IFJ demands that the armed groups in Syria fulfill their obligation under international law to protect journalists on the ground and allow them to report freely and safely.”
Khaled Alkhateb’s death marks the first journalist killed in Syria this year. Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, 74 journalists have died in targeted or crossfire killings.
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