Journalists handed over to Syrian intel

Journalists handed over to Syrian intel

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Journalists handed over to Syrian intel

‘We learned that they are alive and in the Syrian hands,’ says Arınç. AA Photo

Two Turkish journalists missing in Syria have been handed over to Syrian intelligence by pro-regime militia, Deputy Foreign Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters yesterday.

“We have learned that they are alive and in the hands of Syrian officials. The Foreign Ministry will handle their return,” Arınç said. Syrian intelligence units moved the journalists from the village of Al-Fua near the rebel stronghold of Idlib in two armored vehicles, the Anatolia News Agency reported, adding that their whereabouts are now unknown.

Cameraman Hamit Coşkun was injured and may have been tortured, Anatolia quoted local sources as saying. Coşkun and Adem Özköse from the Milat newspaper traveled to the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib near the Turkish border earlier this month, to cover the regime’s repression of the uprising there. They have been missing for 5 days.

“There is no official information yet on the missing journalists,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told reporters yesterday. In an attempt to discover the whereabouts and guarantee the safe return of the journalists, Turkey has asked Iran for help. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had a phone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on March 14 and raised the issue, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey had previously mediated with Syria for the release of kidnapped Iranian pilgrims, resulting in the Free Syrian Army’s release of 11 Iranians. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Iran on March 27-29, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Selçuk Ünal told reporters yesterday.

Meanwhile, a Turkish truck driver was killed in Syria after becoming trapped in crossfire between Syrian forces and rebels near Aleppo, the Doğan news agency reported yesterday. Several trucks were involved in an accident at the time, but it was not clear whether Hasan Koçak, 48, died from injuries he received in the accident or in the clash.