Middle East

Militant group claims Syrian TV channel attack

The Ikhbariya TV compound stands in smoldering ruins after it was attacked by gunmen in the town of Drousha, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA)

DUBAI: A militant group has claimed responsibility for a raid and bombing of a pro-government Syrian TV channel headquarters last week in which seven people were killed.

The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which follows jihadist websites, said late on Tuesday that the Al Nusra Front, a militant group, claimed it carried out the June 27 attack in a message posted on Islamist Internet forums.

SITE said that in the statement posted on June 30, Al Nusra said the raid on Ikhbariya was a reaction to the channel acting as a "striking arm" of President Bashar Assad's government.

"Let no one condemn us for this operation and say it is not proper to attack the media or media people, especially since we had already presented that this lying channel fights and may be even more effective than military power, and it was the one that was glorifying the tyrant day and night," the group said.

The dawn attack on Ikhbariya television's offices, 20 km (15 miles) south of the capital, Damascus, was one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the authoritarian state, showing that after 16-months of revolt, violence is encroaching on the city.

Ikhbariya resumed broadcasting shortly after the attack, which killed three journalists and four security guards and almost entirely destroyed one building.

During the pro-democracy revolt against the Assad family's four-decade rule, Ikhbariya has been pushing to counter what it says is a campaign of misinformation by Western and Arab satellite channels on the uprising that began in March 2011.

Although Ikhbariya is privately owned, opponents of Assad say it is a government mouthpiece.

It was not possible to verify the claim from the militant group, which was unknown before it claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in Damascus and Aleppo that started in December.





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