BEIRUT — An Al-Jazeera TV correspondent was killed in Syria on Friday, the second journalist to lose his life in as many days covering the brutal civil war.
The pan-Arab satellite station said a sniper fired three bullets that fatally wounded Mohammed al-Masalmeh, 33, while he was covering the fighting between regime forces and rebels in the reporter's hometown of Busra al-Harir in southern Syria. Al-Masalmeh, also known as Mohammed Hourani, worked for Al-Jazeera on a contractual basis, according to the station, which said his family was among refugees in neighboring Jordan.
A French journalist, Yves Debay, was slain by a sniper on Thursday while reporting on clashes in the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Aleppo Media Center, a network of anti-regime activists in the city. It said the sniper was believed to be affiliated with regime forces and was positioned on the roof of the Aleppo central prison near the Museilmeh district.
Syrian rebels reportedly brought Debay across the border to Turkey, where a Foreign Ministry official said he was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital early Friday. He had been shot in the heart, according to an initial autopsy report, the Turkish official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Debay was born in what was then the Belgian Congo in 1954. He joined the Belgian army but became bored and joined the white Rhodesian army, which was fighting black Marxist guerrillas.
After his mercenary period, Le Monde said, Debay "satisfied his passion for war" by writing for magazines specializing in military matters, including, finally, an online magazine that he founded, called "Assault."
But the paper called him attentive and kind, and reported that, after 30 years of reporting from around the world, he said he had learned to respect all people, regardless of their origins or ideas.
"France condemns this heinous act and expresses to the family and friends of Yves Debay its condolences, sympathy and solidarity,"
"France pays tribute to Yves Debay and other journalists who, in Syria, pay with their lives for their commitment to freedom of information," French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.
The two slayings mark the first deaths of journalists in Syria in 2013. At least 28 journalists were killed there in 2012, prompting the Committee to Protect Journalists to name Syria the most dangerous country in which to work last year.
"We condemn the targeted murder of Yves Debay and call on all sides of the conflict to respect the role that journalists play in conflict zones and allow them to work freely without fearing for their lives," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour.
Associated Press writer Suzan Frazer in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.