Turkey PM accuses Damascus of holding two journalists

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ANKARA: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday called on the Damascus regime to account for the fate of two Turkish journalists missing in neighboring Syria since March.

“The two Turkish journalists are still in the hands of Syrians, in a prisoner position,” Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament.

“They have not yet been freed. The Syrian administration must answer for this,” he said.

Freelance cameraman Hamit Coskun and Adem Ozkose from the Istanbul-based Milat newspaper had travelled to rebel stronghold Idlib near the Turkish border in early March to cover the deadly violence rocking Syria.

Turkey has been working relentlessly to locate and repatriate the two journalists.

The pair were reportedly handed over to Syrian intelligence by a pro-regime militia last month. Coskun was claimed to have been tortured, according to local media.

Ankara has urged thousands of Turkish nationals to leave Syria where a bloody crackdown by President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime on opposition protesters has killed over 11,000 people, according to monitoring groups.

Turkey, which has broken alliance with Damascus, is pessimistic about the chances of Damascus living up to his commitment to pull its armed forces out of protest hubs, as laid out in international mediator Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

“The Syrian administration is currently playing for time,” said Erdogan.



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