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Lebanese TV Cameraman Killed In Syrian Cross-Border Fire

A Lebanese TV cameraman has been shot dead by Syrian security forces while working inside Lebanon's side of the border separating the two nations, Lebanese officials said Monday.

Ali Shaaban, a cameraman for the Al Jadeed television station, was killed after a bullet fired from the Syrian side of the border pierced his chest. Shaaban was said to be in the Lebanese territory when he was hit by a bullet from the nearby Syrian village of Armouta.

Lebanese officials blamed Syrian security forces for Shaaban's death and said he was killed while filming in the Wadi Khaled area inside Lebanon. While Shaaban died on the way to the hospital, reports indicate Syrian security forces opened fire on the car carrying him and rest of the Al-Jadeed crew.

"We will inform the Syrian side of our condemnation of this act which we reject and our demand that the attack be investigated and that the perpetrators be held to account," Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who is currently on vacation abroad, said in a statement.

"We deplore and condemn the shooting from the Syrian side on the Lebanese media crew, particularly that this crew was doing its duty inside the Lebanese border area and I have asked the leadership of the Lebanese Army to open an immediate investigation into this matter to reveal the circumstances," he added.

Earlier in the day, Syrian forces fired across the border into a refugee camp in Turkey, killing at least two people and injuring more than five others. Turkey reacted strongly to the cross-border attack, summoning Syria's envoy to the country to demand an immediate halt to such cross-border incidents.

Although Turkey and Syria shared close ties until recently, relations between the two are at an all time low after Turkey's strong criticism of Syria's continued crackdown on protesters since the unrest began a year ago.

Turkey has been providing refuge to the Syrian dissidents fleeing the security crackdown in their home nation. Damascus alleges that Syrian army deserters are using Turkey as a base for launching attacks on Syrian military installations.

The developments come despite Syria's acceptance of a six-point peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan to end the violence in the country. The plan requires Syria to pull back troops and heavy weaponry from towns and cities by April 10 and enforce a full ceasefire within the next 48 hours.

In a statement issued Thursday, the United Nations Security Council pledged its full backing to the ceasefire deadline set by Annan's peace plan and urged the Syrian government to implement measures proposed in the plan "in their entirety by no later than 10 April, 2012."

Nevertheless, the latest cross-border incidents coupled with the continued crackdown on unrest-hit cities and towns by Syrian security forces have cast doubts on the successful implementation of the plan proposed by Annan. Syrian rebel fighters have already rejected a demand put forward by the government for written assurances to end attacks and reject foreign funding.

Syria has been witnessing a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, whose government continues to use heavy artillery and armed troops to put down the unrest. According to the UN, more than 9,000 people have been killed since the unrest began a year ago. The Assad regime, however, blames "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign mercenaries for the violence.

by RTT Staff Writer

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