Debay was killed by a sniper while covering fighting in Aleppo in Syria, according to local and international press reports.
Debay, a Belgian-born French journalist, was based in Aleppo, where he covered clashes between the Syrian army and opposition forces in the city for his online newsmagazine Assault, according to news reports. A veteran military correspondent, he contributed reports for the French military magazine Raid, and had written several books about military conflicts.
Debay's death was first reported by the Syrian Media Center, a Facebook group associated with the Syrian opposition. The group said that Debay was accompanying fighters from the Free Syrian Army who were headed to reclaim a local hospital, local reports said. The group also said they believed the sniper was affiliated with the Syrian regime because he was stationed at the top of the Central Prison, toward the north of the city, an area controlled by the regime. The Syrian Media Center posted a video showing Debay's body in a hospital and his French passport.
Debay's death marked the first journalist killed in Syria in 2013, according to CPJ research.
Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, issued a statement on January 9 in which she expressed grave concern over the continued killing of journalists in Syria and called on all parties to recognize a reporter's duty to continue informing the public even in the midst of strife.