Militants attack Russian journalists in Syria

Sun Jun 9, 2013 22:14:07

A Russian TV crew has come under fire by militants in Syria while heading to the Golan Heights.

The convoy shelled was led by a Syrian army military vehicle, and consisted of several cars filled with civilians, including one with Russian TV journalists.

The shelling started when the cars were about 5 kilometers away from their destination – ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ – the only crossing between Syria and the Golan Heights.  

“The Syrian troops started to fight the rebels back, but the insurgents targeted the civilian cars,” said Evgeny Poddubny, the head of the Russian TV crew and special correspondent for Rossiya TV channel.

Throughout the fighting, a Russian cameraman kept filming; gunshots can be heard on the video for 15 minutes.

The footage also features a Syrian army officer reporting to command that armed militants attacked first, and shelling was coming from both sides of the road.

“The convoy could not make it to the checkpoint, the rebels set an ambush on the road, fighting broke out, the military responded with heavy fire to cover the retreat of our TV crew, and then they retreated themselves. The militants were further confronted with the field artillery, which is deployed in the area,” Poddubny said.

No one was injured in the attack.

Violations by the insurgents are seen as major reason why international peacekeepers have been withdrawing from the area.

Austrian troops, which accounted for 40 percent of the UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, have announced their withdrawal.