Syrian reporter and three soldiers killed in roadside bombing: State media

SAMA TV reporter Firas al-Ahmed killed in Deraa, near the Jordanian border.

Syrian border
A Syrian soldier stands guard at the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in Deraa, Syria [File: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters]

A Syrian reporter and three Syrian government soldiers have been killed in the country’s southern Deraa governorate in a roadside bombing, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

Firas al-Ahmad, a reporter for the Damascus-based outlet Sama TV, was killed during the bombing on Wednesday. An earlier statement said a cameraman had also been killed but an update by SANA later reported he was alive after being rescued by local villagers.

“The car carrying Firas and the army personnel was targeted by an IED [improvised explosive device] planted by terrorists on a road in the area of al-Shayyiah in [Deraa] countryside, claiming his life along with two members of the army immediately,” a source told SANA, before adding that a third soldier died later on.

Al-Ahmad had been on assignment on the Syria-Jordan border.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Syria ranks 175 out of 180 on its press freedom index, with more than 270 Syrian journalists killed since the country’s conflict began in 2011.

Deraa was the site of the first peaceful anti-government protests that broke out that year, as the country’s opposition attempted to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In 2018, the province was recaptured by Syrian government troops, as al-Assad regained control of most of Syria, with the help of allies Russia and Iran.

The opposition, now mostly based in the northwest around the city of Idlib, is largely supported by Turkey, which has a significant military presence in northwest Syria, after conducting a number of military operations along the border region.

Despite talk of a Turkish rapprochement with the Syrian government, al-Assad blamed Ankara on Wednesday for an uptick in violence in the country, saying “terrorism in Syria is made in Turkey”.

The president made the comments during an interview for an upcoming broadcast with United Arab Emirates-based Sky News Arabia, his first interview with a foreign media outlet in months.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies