Abbas, a correspondent for the
pro-government TV channel Al-Ikhbariya, was killed when her crew’s vehicle came
under rebel sniper fire, according to official Syrian news sources.
SANA news agency reported that Abbas was driving in a car with
Al-Ikhbariya cameraman Osama Dayoub and driver Badr Awad near the Al-Daba’a military
airbase in the city of Al-Qusayr when a rebel sniper opened fire on the
vehicle. Awad told SANA the gunfire damaged the car and caused it to crash. He
said the crew was taken to the hospital by forces loyal to the Syrian regime,
but that Abbas died before she could be treated. It was not immediately clear
from news reports whether the vehicle was marked with a “Press” sign.
Information Ministry confirmed SANA’s description of Abbas’s death. The
official account did not make clear whether Abbas died from injuries sustained
from sniper fire or from the car crash. The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights said that Abbas had
been killed by a sniper near the airbase, but did not offer further details.
Abbas had gained prominence for
her reporting on the front lines while embedded with government forces. In her
last report from
Al-Qusayr, Abbas can be seen wearing camouflage that closely resembles the
uniforms of the Assad army. In the report, broadcast the day before her death,
she described clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels, who she called
“terrorists” and “mercenaries.”
Al-Qusayr had been the scene of intense
fighting in the weeks preceding Abbas’s death as Assad forces
supported by Hezbollah attempted to capture the key rebel stronghold that links
Lebanon with the Syrian city of Homs. It is not clear whether the Al-Ikhbariya
crew was directly targeted or had just been mistaken for combatants.
Al-Ikhbariya honored Abbas in a short video broadcast
shortly after her death that called her a “heroic martyr.”