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Kurdish Journalists Reported Kidnapped By IS In Syria


According to one estimate, 20 journalists are still missing in Syria, most of them believed to be held by Islamic State militants. (file photo)

According to one estimate, 20 journalists are still missing in Syria, most of them believed to be held by Islamic State militants. (file photo)

Two Kurdish journalists have been reported kidnapped in Syria this week by militants from the Islamic State (IS) group.

Kurdish outlet Rudaw reported that two of its freelance journalists, reporter Farhad Hamo, and photographer Massoud Aqeel, were abducted by IS militants on December 15 on the main road between Qamishli and Al-Yarubyia (Tel Kocher) on the Syria-Iraq border.

The two men were on assignment at the time of their abduction, Rudaw said.

Rudaw has called on IS militants to free Hamo and Aqeel and has urged local tribes to help secure their release.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), which also reported on the claimed abduction, noted that it is not clear how the Kurdish news outlet knew the Islamic State group was responsible for the kidnapping. IS militants have not claimed public responsibility for the abductions.

According to CPJ, over 90 journalists have been abducted in Syria since the conflict began in 2011. Of those, around 20 are still missing, most of whom are thought to be held by IS militants, CPJ said.

CPJ has also noted that some journalist abductions in Syria go unpublicized.

In its annual report released on December 16, Reporters Without Borders said that 22 journalists are being held hostage in Syria including 16 Syrians.

British freelance journalist John Cantlie, who remains an IS hostage, has been used by the militant group for propaganda purposes. Cantlie has appeared in a number of IS videos in which he has made statements on behalf of the group, apparently reading from a script.

Syria also saw the most journalist killings in 2014, according to Reporters Without Borders. Fifteen journalists are known to have been killed in Syria this year, including four in December. Among those killed were U.S. freelance journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded by Islamic State militants.

However, activists say that the Assad government is also targeting journalists in Syria, after three reporters from the Syrian opposition TV station Orient News were killed on December 8 in a missile strike south of Damascus.

According to CPJ, Orient News claimed that the three journalists were deliberately targeted by loyalist forces.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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