Syrian rebels on Friday captured three journalists who work for state television as they accompanied government troops operating near Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
“Three Syrian journalists who work for state television were seized by rebels while they were on assignment, accompanying soldiers in Al-Tal,” just north of Damascus, the monitoring group said.
It said they were “taken prisoner during clashes in Al-Tal where the rebels attacked and destroyed a tank.”
The incident came after a bomb blast rocked the headquarters of Syrian state television in the heart of Damascus on Monday, in an attack which authorities said wounded several people.
And the Observatory said last week that television presenter Mohammed al-Saeed, kidnapped from his Damascus home in mid-July, had been executed. Al-Nusra, a little-known Islamist militant group, claimed the murder.
At least 160 people have been killed across Syria today by security force gunfire, including 75 people killed in Aleppo, Al Arabiya reported citing Local Coordinating Committees in Syria.
Rebels fighting Assad’s forces in Aleppo promised on Friday they will hit back after losing ground under heavy bombardment, and residents fled in cars crammed with belongings during a lull in fighting.
The rebels were pushed back from the Salaheddine district on Thursday by troops seeking to re-establish control over Aleppo, which is Syria’s largest city and economic hub.
“I have about 60 men positioned strategically at the front line and we are preparing a new attack today,” said Abu Jamil, a rebel commander, saying sniper fire in Salaheddine had prevented his men from retrieving a comrade’s body for two days.
Reuters journalists saw residents streaming out of Aleppo, seizing on a calm spell to pack vehicles with mattresses, fridges and toys. At least two air force planes and one drone flew overhead. Random shooting echoed from inside Salaheddine, a former rebel stronghold that controls access from the south.
Some residents of the shattered neighborhood slipped back to try to salvage possessions, despite army snipers lurking there. Two civilians were hit by gunfire in nearby streets.
One, apparently shot in the buttocks, was dragged off the street by rebels and treated by medics before being taken to a field clinic. A second man was wounded in the back and arm. Blood soaked through the sleeve of his yellow jacket and his face was contorted in pain as rescuers put him in a vehicle.
In an apparent effort to project an air of normalcy, state television screened footage dated Aug. 10 of a calm Aleppo, including images of its ancient citadel - U.N. World Heritage site - and cars flowing freely around a traffic circle.
In Damascus, residents reported shelling of the south-eastern district of Shebaa and said nine tanks could be seen on the road heading out to the airport.
Meanwhile, the state news agency reported on Friday that Syrian soldiers repelled an attack by rebels on the international airport in the embattled city of Aleppo on Friday.
“A courageous unit of the army confronted a group of mercenary terrorists who tried to attack Aleppo international airport,” SANA said. “The army hit back and killed most of them.”