A file picture shows volunteers digging trenches at Amuda town of Al Hasakah Governorate, close to the Syria-Turkey border, northeastern Syria, 28 July 2022. EFE/EPA/FILE/AHMED MARDNLI

2 Syrian journalists among 4 dead in bomb blast

Beirut, Aug 9 (EFE).– Two TV journalists were among four people killed in a roadside bomb explosion in the southern Syrian province of Deraa on Wednesday, state media reported.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) identified the deceased journalists as Ahmed al-Masalme, a cameraman for official Syrian TV, and Firas al-Ahmad, a reporter for the privately owned SAMA TV.

The official news agency stated that “terrorists” had planted the explosive device but refrained from naming any specific group.

Two Syrian soldiers also lost their lives in the bombing in the al-Shiyah area, located near the provincial capital of Deraa .

According to the official news agency, the victims were returning from an anti-drug operation in the area.

SAMA TV verified Ahmad’s death on its official Facebook page, confirming that he had been the correspondent in the province.

Mohammed Alasakra, associated with the network of local activist-journalists Horan Free Media, announced via his Twitter account that Mustafa al-Kasam, the leader of a pro-government militia, had died in an explosion in the same area.

Al-Kasam had been added to the European Council’s sanctions list just three months ago leading “a regime-affiliated militia that reports directly to the Syrian Military Security branch.”

His militia was alleged to profit from the war economy, including trafficking the synthetic drug Captagon.

The Captagon trade has transformed into a regime-led business model, enriching the inner circle of the regime and solidifying its power.

It was not immediately clear whether al-Kasam had been traveling in the same vehicle as the reporters.

Selective killings have recently escalated in Deraa, a volatile region with a significant presence of opposition fighters and serving as one of the primary hubs for Captagon trafficking in Syria.

The region had been the focal point of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and returned to Damascus’ control in 2018 following a Russia-backed ceasefire deal. EFE