Iran’s Press TV claimed its Damascus correspondent was killed Wednesday by a rebel sniper while reporting on bombings in the Syrian capital. Two car bombs struck the Syrian Army’s command headquarters, setting one of the buildings on fire.
Maya Nasser, a 33 -year-old Syrian national, was killed while reporting from the scene, Press TV said. Hussein Murtada – Press TV’s Damascus bureau chief and head of the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV network – was also reportedly injured in the attack.
In recent months, Nasser reported from the frontlines of the Syrian conflict. His video reports from war-torn Aleppo were a valuable source of on-the-ground information.
“Maya Nasser was a true professional, and his help to me was priceless while I was reporting from Syria,” RT’s Oksana Boyko said, recalling how Nasser gave her advance warning of which conflict zones were particularly dangerous.
Nasser maintained excellent relations with foreign journalists working in Syria, and was often cited by colleagues as the only source of reliable information on the conflict.
“In private he always stressed that it is the hardship of war that had fallen on the Syrian people is what disturbed him the most,” Boyko said. “Maya always stressed that ordinary people are those who suffer the most in the conflict.”
Nasser never hid his identity, and frequently debated political opponents on his Twitter account. Though he was threatened on the Web more than once, he was remembered as always being fearless about his work.
Syrian rebels have targeted or kidnapped increasing numbers of foreign journalists in recent months as a way of striking the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
French journalist Gilles Jacquier was killed in January by 81mm mortar fire from a rebel-held area.
On June 27, seven journalists and four security guards were killed in a rebel attack on the pro-government Al-Ikhbaria TV station in the town of Drousha, south of Damascus. One building in the complex was nearly demolished.
Syrian state TV host Mohammed al-Saeed was kidnapped and executed on July 19; a militant Islamist group claimed responsibility for the killing.
Two more Syrian journalists were kidnapped on August 4: Talal Jinbakly, a camera operator for Syrian state TV, and Mohammad Ali Hussein, who worked for an educational channel in Syria. That same day, Syrian rebels attempted to seize a state-run radio and TV broadcasting complex in Aleppo, and reportedly raised a rebel flag on top of the building.
Three TV journalists and their driver were kidnapped while reporting from a Damascus suburb on August 10.
On August 11, the head of Syrian news agency SANA was killed in Damascus.
In a mid-August statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the “terrorist attacks against journalists” who “ensure the democratic rights of people to receive objective information, freedom of speech and opinion.”