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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Two Journalists Reportedly Wounded in Syria

Confusion Over Victims Underscores Uncertainties of Covering Conflict 

By: Naomi Hunt, IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser

A Free Syrian Army member get ready for their patrol in Attarib on the outskirts of Aleppo province July 30, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

VIENNA, July 31, 2012 – An Al Jazeera correspondent has reportedly been wounded in Syria and transferred to Turkey for medical treatment, while a Turkish photojournalist was reportedly shot in the foot. Both journalists were injured while covering clashes in Aleppo, the commercial capital of Syria, which has witnessed brutal fighting in recent days.   

Al Jazeera cameraman Hakan Bayginer told AP that his colleague Omar Khashram was injured by shrapnel after a mortar round landed near them. The journalist reportedly holds Turkish and Jordanian citizenship.  

Khashram works for Al Jazeera’s Arabic service. He was injured while covering events in the city of Aleppo, Al Jazeera television reported, according to the Daily Star in Beirut.

Turkish photographer Sinan Gül of the Anatolian news agency was reportedly shot in the foot and transferred to a hospital in Aleppo, Hürriyet reported on its news website.

Yesterday it was reported that Pierre Torres, a French freelance reporter, had been injured in the city. However, the journalist later told AFP that he was not wounded, and had not been transferred to Turkey for care. He was still in northern Syria, he noted. Another journalist had been quoted as saying that Torres was shot in the shoulder on Sunday while covering the Aleppo fighting, but it appears this was not the case.  

Confusion over such reports underscores the challenges of reporting on the conflict in Syria – where the government has heavily restricted reporting.

Last Thursday, British freelance journalist John Cantlie and Dutch freelance photographer Jeroen Oerlemans were released after they spent a week being threatened by opposition-linked fighters. Oerlemans later told reporters that their captors were foreign jihadis from South Asia, as well as several men who he said spoke with British accents.

IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said: “IPI calls on all groups in Syria to respect the fundamental rights of the media, and the critical role played by journalists reporting on conflict.”