Cüneyt Ünal, a cameraman working for the Virginia-based Al Hurra TV, and his Arab colleague Bashar Fahmi have not been contactable since they entered Syria on Monday morning.
Capt. Ahmed Ghazali, a rebel fighter in the northern Syrian city of Azaz, said that the two journalists were captured by Syrian government forces in Aleppo in a YouTube video posted on Monday.
A statement from the TV station read: “We are currently working to gather more information about their status. The safety and wellbeing of our journalists is of the utmost concern to us.”
Speaking to reporters, Davutoğlu confirmed that there were “suspicious reports” about the fate of one Turkish journalist, although he declined to say whether this journalist is Ünal, stating he did not want to give a name at this point. “We hope to get good news about this journalist, but our concerns remain,” he said.
Davutoğlu further said that journalists are being targeted because “journalists show the world what is happening in Syria and this bothers the [Syrian] regime, which is committing large-scale murder.”
Sources from the Foreign Ministry also said that they are following the situation of the Turkish journalist in Syria.
Meanwhile, Mika Yamamoto, a Japanese correspondent, was killed amid gunfire in Aleppo on Monday, Japanese Foreign Ministry sources confirmed. It is not yet clear whether the incident of Yamamoto's killing is in any way connected to the missing journalists, but there are allegations that the slain journalist was travelling with Ünal, other journalists and Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels before their vehicle was attacked by a group of people.
FSA sources said Syrian government forces were responsible for the attack on the journalists. Abu Raashid, commander of the Liwa Asifat al Shamal, one of the groups that make up the opposition FSA, told AFP that the dead journalist had been “targeted by regime forces.”
Yamamoto's body was transferred to Turkey, where Japanese consular officials are providing assistance. The body was sent to the Kilis State Hospital morgue on Monday night and will be sent to Japan after preliminary autopsies at the hospital.
“If the international community doesn't move to help the Syrian people, they have to react to the spilling of their citizens' blood on Syrian territory,” Raashid said. “We want a sincere position from the international community, a real position, not just words.”
Yamamoto is not the first foreign journalist to have been killed in Syria. In February, two Western journalists, American Marie Colvin and Frenchman Remi Ochlik, were killed in the besieged city of Homs when shells hit the house where they were staying.
Adem Özköse (34) and Hamit Özonur (21), two Turkish journalists who went missing in Syria in early March, were released safely in May. Turkey has already closed its embassy in Damascus and halted flights to and from Syria.
A total of 23,000 people have been killed in the 17-month Syrian crisis, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization. The UN puts the death toll at around 17,000.