French journalist killed by sniper fire in Syria

ANKARA Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:21am EST

ANKARA Jan 18 (Reuters) - A French journalist of Belgian origin, Yves Debay, has been killed by sniper fire while reporting in Syria, a Turkish official said on Friday.

Debay, who was shot once in the head and once in the chest, was brought to Turkey overnight where medical staff pronounced him dead on arrival, the official said. Syrian anti-government rebels said Debay had been shot in the northern city of Aleppo.

Debay had been working for Assaut, a French magazine he founded and which specialised in defence matters.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, Debay was born in 1954 in what was then the Belgian Congo and later took French nationality. A former soldier, Debay later moved into journalism where he specialised in war reporting.

Last year, Syria was by far the most dangerous for journalists with 28 killed, according to the watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists. Several have also been abducted in Syria during the uprising and are still missing.

Rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad have detained journalists suspected of supporting the government. Pro-Assad militia have also seized journalists, including an NBC News team who were held for five days in December.

The Syrian government tightly restricts media access. (Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Mark Heinrich)