A Turkish cameraman, who went missing in Syria while covering the civil war in the restive northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo, has appeared in a video broadcasted on a pro-government Syrian TV channel.
Cüneyt Ünal, a cameraman working for the Virginia-based Al Hurra TV, was seen in a video on Syrian news channel al-Ekhbariya talking about how he arrived in Syria and what he experienced.
The video first shows a photograph of Ünal with a rocket launcher in his hand. Under the photo is a statement that says Ünal's entry into Syria was not legal. Ünal's speech is provided with Arabic subtitles and he is portrayed as a terrorist in the video.
The cameraman, who appears very tired and has difficulty speaking, says he flew from İstanbul to Hatay and then went to the province of Kilis. From Kilis, Ünal says, he went to the northern Syrian city of Azaz “with an armed group which included members of Chechnian, Libyan, Saudi Arabian and Qatari origin.”
It is not known when the video was taken.
Commenting on the video featuring the Turkish cameraman, Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the cameraman's speech was a dictated one.
“Anyone who objects to the brutal violence of President Bashar al-Assad's regime is regarded to be a terrorist [by the regime],” Davutoğlu said adding that the Syrian state is responsible for the safety of the Turkish cameraman.
Adem Özköse (34) and Hamit Özonur (21), two Turkish journalists who went missing in Syria in early March, were released safely in May. Turkey has already closed its embassy in Damascus and halted flights to and from Syria.
A total of 23,000 people have been killed in the 17-month Syrian crisis, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization. The UN puts the death toll at around 17,000.
Mika Yamamoto, a veteran war correspondent with The Japan Press, an independent TV news provider that specializes in conflict zone coverage, was killed last week on Monday during clashes between Syrian opposition groups and Assad's soldiers.
It is not yet clear whether Yamamoto's killing is in any way connected to the missing journalists, but there are allegations that the slain journalist was travelling with Ünal, other journalists and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters before their vehicle was attacked by a group of people.
FSA sources said Syrian government forces were responsible for the attack on the journalists.
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