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IFJ condemns killing of Russia Today journalist in Syria

31 July 2017

A Russia Today (RT) correspondent was killed and a cameraman injured in a rocket attack by the Islamic State (IS) militants on Sunday 30 July in Homs province, Syria.

The International Union of Journalists (IFJ) and its Russian affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists, condemned the attack and called on journalists to take extreme caution when covering the Syrian conflict.  

Khaled Alkhateb, 25, was travelling with Syrian government forces reporting on their offensive against IS near the town of Al-Sukhna when the group came under anti-tank rocket fire from IS fighters. Alkhateb and an unidentified Syrian army official were killed. RT cameraman, Muutaz Yaqoub, sustained minor injuries and was admitted to a nearby hospital. The broadcaster, RT Arabic, reported that three other Syrian army soldiers were also injured in the attack. 

Alkhateb was born in Syria in 1992. According to his social media accounts he became a stringer for RT Arabic on 12 June 2017. Alkhateb had been working for Sputnik International, Syrian state television and finally RT before his death and is the first RT journalist to be killed reporting for the network.

Tim Shaffir, RUJ executive secretary, said:

"The death of our colleague Khaled Alkhateb in Syria is another tragic and sad occasion for all journalists, cameramen and media employees working in conflict zones. Once again we demand their safety and protection in a situation where they risk their lives daily. This is an occasion to once again pay tribute to their courage and professionalism. We mourn together with relatives and friends of our Syrian colleague and we express our condolences to his colleagues from the RT channel."

Philippe Leruth, IFJ president, said:

"We are appalled by yet another death of a journalist in Syria. Our thoughts are with Khaled Alkhateb’s family, loved ones and colleagues. The IFJ demands that the armed groups in Syria fulfill their obligation under international law to protect journalists on the ground and allow them to report freely and safely."

Khaled Alkhateb’s death marks the first journalist killed in Syria this year. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, 74 journalists have died in targeted or crossfire killings.

Tags: , syria, russia today, russian union of journalists, ifj, journalist safety, journalists killed