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A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces stands guard in the front line village of Baghuz on February 2, 2019. An Italian photojournalist was recently injured by Islamic State rebels while covering the conflict in Baghuz. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Italian photojournalist severely injured covering clashes in eastern Syria

February 13, 2019 12:24 PM ET

Gabriele Micalizzi, an Italian freelance photojournalist, was severely injured by shrapnel while covering clashes between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State militant group in the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz on February 11, 2019, according to news reports, the pro-opposition Rojava Information Center, and CNN photographer and filmmaker Gabriel Chaim, who was with Micalizzi when he was injured.

Chaim told CPJ that he and Micalizzi were embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces when Islamic State fighters fired a rocket propelled grenade at them.

"Micalizzi was hit by shrapnel from the RPG [rocket propelled grenade] in his head, his left eye and ear, and different parts of his body. I was a meter and a half away from him and got hit by the blast," Chaim told CPJ.

Micalizzi was first taken to a field hospital, then to the Omar Oilfield base, and finally airlifted to Baghdad, Iraq's capital, on a U.S. military plane, according to Chaim.

Micalizzi co-founded the photographers' collective Cesura Lab, and had been working on a report on the reconstruction of the northern Syrian city of Kobane, according to La Stampa.

Fausto Biloslavo, an Italian reporter for the Il Giornale daily who was with Micalizzi in Baghdad, told CPJ that Micalizzi underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital on February 12. He added that Micalizzi's left eye and ear were damaged and the journalist may need to be evacuated to Italy.

On February 13, Micalizzi underwent another surgery in Baghdad, according to Alessandro Sala, his colleague at Cesura Lab.

Micalizzi's photos have been published in The New York Times, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

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