ANKARA, March 14 (Reuters) - Two Turkish journalists are missing in Syria a week after travelling to the city of Idlib where, activists said, dozens of people have been killed in a Syrian army bombardment and house-to-house searches.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was working to find out information on the whereabouts of reporter Adem Ozkose, who works for the Milat newspaper, and cameraman Hamit Coskun.
“We are making a great effort for the safe return of our journalists through every possible initiative,” state-run Anatolia agency quoted Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying in a report on its website.
“There have been saddening deaths from the international media in Syria recently. It shows how severe the situation has become in Syria,” he said.
The two arrived in Idlib province, just across the border from Turkey, a week ago, the newspaper and activists said.
Turkey’s Hatay province has become a staging post for reporters attempting to cross the porous border to cover the protests and fighting in nearby areas of Syria.
But the work has become increasingly dangerous with two reporters, American veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, killed in the fighting and at least one more wounded.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has contacted Syrian authorities for information about the missing journalists, but had not received a response from officials in Damascus, while the Aleppo governor’s office said it would look into the issue, a ministry official said.
Families and friends of Ozkose and Coskun gathered in front of the foreign minister’s office in Ankara for information on the men, who have not been in contact for four days. The group then moved on to the Syrian embassy in the Turkish capital.
“Journalists, aid volunteers or civilians cannot be harmed anywhere in the world,” said the group’s Eyup Gokhan Ozekin. “We fear for the lives of our friends. We expect an explanation from Syrian officials.”
Idlib has seen a marked rise in violence in recent weeks involving Syrian security forces and army defectors. Opposition activists said the army had killed dozens of people in Idlib on Tuesday, while rebels had killed 10 loyalist troops.
After long-courting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey ditched its friendship last year following the violent government crackdown on protests and is now at the forefront of efforts to try to galvanise international action to try to stop the spiral into civil war.
There are some 13,000 registered Syrian refugees living in camps inside Turkey along its border with Syria, and an estimated 2,000 more staying with Turkish relatives. (Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Ece Toksabay and Jon Hemming; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)