Sky News Arabia says TV crew missing in Syria

Sky News Arabia says TV crew missing in Syria

ABU DHABI - Television channel Sky News Arabia said Thursday it had lost contact with its crew on assignment in the north Syria province of Aleppo, where abductions have been on the rise.

The Abu Dhabi-based channel said in a statement that reporter Ishak Moctar, a Mauritanian national, Lebanese cameraman Samir Kassab and a Syrian driver it did not name at his family's request have been missing since Tuesday.

It appealed to "all concerned parties" to help it locate its team and support "any effort ensuring their safe return".

The journalists are "dedicated to covering the news objectively, professionally and without bias," said Nart Bouran, head of Sky News Arabia.

"Their assignment in Syria is largely focused on covering the humanitarian aspects of the situation," he added.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says at least 16 foreign journalists are missing in Syria, although many cases have not been made public at the request of their families.

RSF says that since the conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, at least 25 professional journalists and 70 citizen journalists have been killed. Though journalists have been killed while reporting from the regime side, most deaths and kidnappings have been among those behind rebel lines.

Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the threat has evolved.

"In the beginning we only saw journalists being kidnapped by the government but later we began to see the opposition becoming increasingly involved," he told AFP.

"The kidnappings now are not just for political reasons, but also for financial reasons. We have also seen groups that are specifically targeting journalists, accusing them of being spies." Launched in May 2012, Sky News Arabia is a joint venture between Britain-based BSkyB and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation.

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