Remains of Japanese journalist killed in Syria brought to Turkey

Remains of Japanese journalist killed in Syria brought to Turkey

(Photo: AP)

August 21, 2012, Tuesday/ 12:01:00

The remains of a Japanese journalist killed in Syria's city of Halep were brought to the southern Turkish province of Kilis on Tuesday.

Mika Yamamoto, a veteran war correspondent with The Japan Press, an independent TV news provider that specializes in conflict zone coverage, was in Syria to cover the uprising. She was killed on Monday during clashes between Syrian opposition groups and President Bashar al-Assad's soldiers.

Opposition fighters brought her body to Kilis State Hospital. Yamamoto's remains will be sent back to her country following a routine autopsy.

Meanwhile, a group of member of the Japanese press came to Kilis upon hearing of the death of their colleague.

Masaru Sato, a spokesman with the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, said the 45-year-old was hit by gunfire while she and a colleague were traveling with the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is trying to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

A video posted on YouTube on Monday by an activist in Syria shows the body of an Asian woman inside a van wrapped in blankets with only her face showing.

An Associated Press reporter who had worked with Yamamoto and who viewed the video confirmed her identity.

Yamamoto had covered the war in Afghanistan after 2001 and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq from Baghdad as a special correspondent for NTV, according to Japan Press' website.

In the YouTube video, Capt. Ahmed Ghazali, a rebel fighter in the northern Syrian city of Azaz, says the Japanese journalist was killed by regime forces in Aleppo.

"We welcome any journalist who wants to enter Syria," Ghazali says. "We will secure their entry, but we are not responsible for the brutality of Assad's forces against the media."

Expressing frustration that the international community has not intervened in the Syria conflict, which activists say has killed more than 20,000 people since March 2011, Ghazali says he hopes the journalist's death will encourage international action.

"I hope that these countries that have not been moved by Syrian blood will be moved by the blood of their people," he says.

Ghazali also said two other journalists were captured by Syrian government forces in Aleppo, including a reporter with Al-Hurra TV named "Bashar."