Last updated: 9 April, 2012

Lebanese TV says Syrians shot dead cameraman

Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed satellite television on Monday accused the Syrian army of shooting dead its cameraman Ali Shaaban, saying it opened fire at its team which was on Lebanon’s side of the border.

“Ali Shaaban became a martyr after the Syrian army opened fire on the Al-Jadeed car” in the Wadi Khaled area, the channel said.

Its reporter Hussein Khreiss, who was with Shaaban, said on screen that the team came under fire “from the Syrian side” as they were taking footage of Syrian territory from inside Lebanon.

The reporter and another cameraman, Abdul Azeem Khayat, survived after jumping into a field when their car came under “heavy fire,” but Shaaban was not able to crawl away because he had been hit, Khreiss said.

He said the shooting took place even though the television team had “greeted the Syrian forces guarding the borders.”

The Syrian state news agency SANA said the Al-Jadeed team came under fire as border guards opened fire in retaliation to an attack by “terrorist groups.”

“During the presence of the Al-Jadeed team, a border checkpoint came under heavy fire from armed terrorist groups… and the border guards retaliated,” SANA said quoting an unnamed media source.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned on Monday the attack, while President Michel Sleiman demanded a Syrian probe.

“We condemn the act of opening fire from the Syrian side on the Lebanese media team, mainly as this team was operating within Lebanese territory,” said Mikati, whose government is dominated by pro-Syria parties — the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah party and its allies.

“We will inform the Syrian side of our condemnation of this unacceptable act and our demand that the attack be investigated and the culprits held accountable,” he added.

Sleiman also urged Damascus to investigate the shooting and “establish who is responsible,” a statement said.