Turkish gunfire wounds two Syrian Kurdish journalists in northeastern Syria
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Turkish authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists during their military operations after shots fired by Turkish soldiers injured two Syrian Kurdish journalists in the border town of Tal Abyad, in northeastern Syria, on 2 November.
Ibrahim Ahmad and Gulistan Mohammed, who work for the Syrian Kurdish news agency ANHA/Hawa, sustained gunshot injuries while covering the clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces and the Turkish army’s cross-border bombardment of the town. The condition of Ahmad, who was hit in the leg, is stable, but Mohammed’s condition is much more worrying because the bullet struck her in the face.
Both were shot by a Turkish sniper, according to the ANHA/Hawa news agency which told RSF that the Turkish forces were just a few dozen metres away from the reporters – close enough to tell from their cameras and microphones that they were journalists.
“Combatants must respect UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on the safety of journalists in armed conflicts, and must not target them or detain them as if they were participants in the conflict,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The Turkish authorities must accept that this imposes obligations on them, both with regard to their own armed forces and the groups they support.”
Turkish forces have also been fighting Syrian Kurdish forces in northern Syria’s Afrin region, 250 km to the west, where Turkey’s military intervention began in January and where Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces have carried out a series of abductions of journalists this year.
The Turkish-backed Syrian forces have abducted at least four journalists, holding each one for about a month on the pretext of “lacking a permit to take photographs.” They are still holding four other media workers – fixer Redwan Khalil and assistants Kaniwar Khelif, Hasan Khelif and Issam Abas – who were working for Al Hurra TV at the time of their arrest on 22 June.
Ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, Syria was again the world’s most dangerous country for journalists in 2017.