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Angel Sastre, Antonio Pampliega and Jose Manuel Lopez were freelance journalists reporting on the war in Syria

Spanish journalists freed in Syria

WT24 Desk

Three Spanish journalists who were kidnapped while working in Syria last year have been released and are due to return to Spain, the government says, BBC reports.  Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre disappeared from the northern city of Aleppo 10 months ago.

Parts of Aleppo are controlled by rebel groups including so-called Islamic State (IS), who have kidnapped and killed journalists in the past. It is not yet clear who kidnapped Mr Pampliega, Mr Lopez and Mr Sastre.

The Spanish government statement said that the men were safe and well, and waiting in Turkey to be brought back to Spain. The statement said allies including Turkey and Qatar were instrumental in freeing them.

Elsa Gonzalez, the president of Spain’s federation of journalists, said the news was a cause for “joy and emotion”. Previously, in 2014, two Spanish journalists were freed after being held for six months by IS.

The media rights group Reporters Without Borders ranks Syria as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Scores of journalists, both foreign nationals and Syrian, have been killed there.

Air strikes in Aleppo have killed dozens of people in recent weeks, in the worst phase of violence the city has seen since the start of the Syrian civil war more than five years ago.

But a truce was called on Wednesday, bringing some respite to the city.

Some of the journalists who have been killed while working in Syria:

  • Ahmad Mohamed al-Mousa – Syrian – anti-IS citizen journalist – killed in December 2015 by a group of masked men, a month after his organisation, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, was given an International Press Freedom Award
  • Kenji Goto – Japanese – freelance documentary maker – went missing in October 2014 and was killed by IS in a video that emerged in January 2015
  • Mohamed al-Qasim – Syrian – radio journalist – killed when his car was attacked by gunmen from an unidentified group in 2014
  • Steven Sotloff – American – freelance journalist – was abducted in 2013 and killed by IS in 2014
  • James Foley – American – freelance journalist – went missing in 2012 and was killed by IS in a video that emerged in 2014
  • Yara Abbas – Syrian – TV journalist – shot dead by a rebel sniper from an unidentified group in 2013
  • Ihsan al-Buni – Syrian – photographer for a state-owned newspaper – shot dead by an unidentified rebel group in 2012
  • Marie Colvin – American correspondent for the Sunday Times – killed in an airstrike in 2012
  • Remi Ochlik – French – photojournalist – killed in the same 2012 airstrike as Marie Colvin
  • Mazhar Tayyara – Syrian – freelance videographer – killed in 2012 in gunfire from government sources
  • Ferzat Jarban – Syrian – cameraman – arrested while filming anti-regime protests in 2011 and found dead the next day

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