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Russia condemns attacks on journalists in Syria

Russia has called on countries that have influence on Syrian rebels to take steps to ensure the security of media representatives.

Moscow: Russia has strongly condemned attacks on journalists in Syria and has called on countries that have influence on Syrian rebels to take steps to ensure the security of media representatives working in the conflict-hit country.

"Moscow treats with growing concern the information that we have received from Damascus about representatives of Syrian and international media being attacked by illegal armed groups with growing frequency," deputy Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

The spokeswoman cited the kidnapping of four employees of Syria`s pro-government al-Ikhbariya TV channel on August 10 and reports about the killing of a senior journalist of the state-run Syrian Sana news agency on August 11 as recent examples of such attacks.

The al-Ikhbariya employees were kidnapped while on assignment in Damascus.

Al-Ikhbariya said cameraman Hatem Abu Yahia, who was among the kidnapped employees, is believed to have been killed.

A video footage posted on the Internet showed his three surviving colleagues who said they were being held by rebel forces.

A man who identified himself as a rebel spokesperson said in the video that the cameraman was killed in government shelling.

"We condemn in the most decisive way terrorist attacks on journalists who ensure the implementation of fundamental democratic rights of citizens to receive objective information, as well as the freedom of speech and opinion," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

International organisations as well as countries that have influence on the Syrian opposition "cannot stand on the sidelines and fail to react" to such attacks, she added.

The Syrian government said that an "armed terrorist group" assassinated Sana journalist Ali Abbas at his residence in Jdaidet Artouz, to the southwest of Damascus.

Earlier in August, al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for several suicide attacks in Syria, said it had killed a prominent Syrian TV host, Mohammad al-Said, who was kidnapped from Jdaidet Artouz by gunmen in July.

In June, seven Al-Ikhbariya employees were killed in an attack by an armed group on the TV channel`s headquarters in the outskirts of Damascus.

In February, veteran US war correspondent Marie Colvin, who had been working for The Sunday Times of London, and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed as Syrian security forces shelled the rebel-held city of Homs.

Around 17,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the anti-Assad uprising in March 2011, according to UN estimates.


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