Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voiced concern about the risks for reporters covering military operations in Syria as it called for every effort to be made to protect them. The remarks came as two Syrian journalists were killed and eight others were injured while covering the Assad regime and Russian intensifying onslaught on Idlib province and rural Aleppo.
The latest fatality was Abdel Nasser Haj Hamdan, a journalist working as a photographer for the Binnish Media Office, who was killed in the town of Maarat Al-Naasan in the north of Idlib province on Sunday while covering Russian and Assad regime bombing in the area, the monitoring group said in a press release issued on Monday.
Amjad Aktalati, a journalist who covered local military activity for his Facebook followers, was killed in Ariha, in the south of Idlib province, on 4 February.
“When fighting intensifies, the first victims are local journalists,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Our access to reporting on the ground depends on them because foreign journalists rarely go there. The authorities must to do everything possible to protect them.”
In its annual report, issued on February 20, 2020, The Syrian Center for Journalistic Freedom of the Association of Syrian Journalists said that it recorded 97 new violations against media workers across in Syria throughout 2019.
According to the Center, 10 media workers were killed in 2019, half of whom at the hands of the Assad regime. The figure has brought to 455 the number of journalists who have been verified killed across Syria since 2011, 314 of whom were killed at the hands of the Assad regime.
According to a RSF report issued last year, Syria is still ranked 172 out of 180 countries on the press freedom index. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)