Lebanese journalist abducted by rebel group in Syria
New York, October 29, 2012–A rebel group abducted a Lebanese journalist in the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, bringing to at least five the number of international journalists being held captive by various sides of the conflict. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the journalists’ captors to immediately release them and stop targeting members of the press who are covering the unrest in the region.
Fidaa Itani, a reporter for the private Lebanese Broadcasting Cooperation International (LBCI) and several other Lebanese news outlets, was accompanying the Free Syrian Army and reporting on military operations in Aleppo when he was seized in the Aazaz neighborhood, according to news reports. A rebel militia called the Northern Storm Battalion of Aazaz reported on its Facebook page that the journalist was being held under “house arrest” and had been detained because “his work was not suitable with the course of the Syrian revolution and revolutionaries,” news reports said. The Free Syrian Army is not a single, unified organization but an overarching name for numerous local militias such as the Northern Storm Battalion that at times have conflicting agendas.
Itani’s employer, LBCI, said that it had spoken to the group’s commander, Abu Ibrahim, who confirmed that the Northern Storm Battalion was holding Itani and that the reporter had been taking “suspicious” pictures of rebel military movements and locations. Ibrahim told LBCI that the journalist would be released soon.
“All sides of this conflict must respect journalists’ internationally recognized status as civilians and must end the continuous abduction of journalists