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3 journalists for Hezbollah TV killed in Syria

Published: Monday, April 14, 2014 11:54 a.m. CDT
(AP Photo/SANA))
In this photo released on Sunday, April 13, 2014 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian forces tank arrives to take position during clashes with Syrian rebels, near the town of Rankous, Syria. The seizure of the villages comes a day after Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group captured the nearby town of Rankous.

BEIRUT (AP) — Three journalists working with Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar TV were killed Monday after the car they were traveling in came under a hail of bullets in the Syrian town of Maaloula, the station said.

The three were filming in the historic Christian town after it was seized by the Syrian army when the incident occurred.

Al-Manar identified the three as reporter Hamza al-Haj Hassan, technician Halim Allaw, and cameraman Mohammed Mantash. Two of their colleagues were also wounded, it said.

The Lebanese militant Hezbollah is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Fighters from the group have traveled to Syria and have been instrumental in helping Syrian troops secure key areas near the Lebanese border.

Backed by Hezbollah fighters, the Syrian government on Monday seized at least three border communities, including Maaloula, north of Damascus.

Al-Manar said "gunmen" opened fire on the convoy carrying the crew, using a term often employed by Syrian authorities to refer to rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.

It showed footage of two cars, including a white SUV carrying broadcasting equipment for live transmission with bullet holes in the doors, windows and wheels and blood on the seats.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the crew was hit by sniper fire from an Islamic brigade in the area. It added that four Syrian soldiers were killed as they tried to rescue Al-Manar's team. The group relies on a network of activists on the ground in Syria.

Syrian state-run television said the Al-Manar crew came under fire along with a crew from Iran's state-run Arabic language channel, Al-Alam TV.

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