Middle East

Syrian pro-regime journalist assassinated in Damascus: TV

A view of buildings damaged after what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Daria, near Damascus, November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Kenan Al-Derani/Shaam News Network/Handout

DAMASCUS: A Syrian journalist working for a government newspaper was killed in a south Damascus neighborhood on Tuesday, state television announced.

"An armed terrorist group assassinated the journalist Naji Assaad in the Tadamun district of Damascus as he was on his way to the Tishreen newspaper," the broadcaster said.

A retired journalist in his sixties, Assaad contributed articles to Tishreen, the last of which was published on Monday, an official at the paper told AFP.

The killing marked the second of a journalist in Tadamun in less than a fortnight. The neighbourhood has been plagued by intermittent battles between rebels and government forces since mid-summer.

On November 22, rebels shot dead state television reporter Bassel Tawfiq Youssef in the violence-stricken neighbourhood, and branded him a "shabiha", or pro-regime militiaman.

Fifteen professional journalists and 41 so-called citizen journalists have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March last year, according to international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Two foreign journalists meanwhile are missing in Syria.

Palestinian-Jordanian Bashar Fahmi al-Kadumi, who works for US-funded Al-Hurra television broadcaster, has been missing since August 20, while US freelancer Austin Tice disappeared on August 13 from the outskirts of Damascus.

According to the anti-regime Syrian Journalists Association, November was the bloodiest month for the media in Syria, with 13 amateur and professional journalists killed across the strife-torn country.

"This is a clear and serious indication that journalists and media workers are being targeted, by Syrian regime forces as well as three killed at the hands of the armed opposition," the SJA said.





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