How Militants Opened Fire on Al-Manar Crew in Maaloula
Following the martyrdom of al-Manar crew members in The Syrian town of Maaloula last Monday, investigation was opened to reveal the details of the attack by terrorists who did not manage to flee the town. Al-Akhbar daily revealed on Friday the details of the investigation into the incident. Following the recapture of al-Sarkha town, units of Syrian army advanced in Maaloula in two directions, the first in the north, in which the heights of Maaloula, as-Safir hotel and the western neighborhoods were controlled. The second direction was the east, in which all the eastern neighborhoods were liberated. In this area, the Syrian army raided houses and weapons left by the terrorists were seized. At that time, the full control over Maaloula was announced as the town was considered safe area and journalists were permitted to enter the town. In a short time, the Syrian TV reporter and al-Manar correspondent, Jaafar Mhanna, arrived in Maaloula, and at 2:10 p.m. the reporters delivered live messages near as-Safir hotel. Al-M.anar crew then had arrived from Lebanon. Martyr Mohammad Mantash, accompanied al-Manar crew to Maaloula, in his capacity as a member of Hezbollah’s Battlefield Media.
It was decided that al-Manar crew would deliver its next live message in square close to St. Takla monastery. Mantash and al-Manar crew headed to that area in three cars: the first was driven by martyr Mantash, the second was the SNG, while the third was driven by the martyr reporter, Hamza al-Hajj Hasan. As the cars were in the area close to the square which is close to the monastery, there was nothing wrong, and the Syrian army soldiers were moving normally. However, as they turned to the left heading to the monastery at 3:30 p.m. three militants opened heavy and direct fire on the convoy.
The militants were seen by the Syrian soldiers who were centered in an area that overlooks the place of the ambush near as-Safir hotel, Al-Akhbar noted. Other journalists, including al-Alam correspondent Hussein Mortada, also saw the militants who opened fire at al-Manar crew. As a result of the shooting, Mantash was martyred at once, and then the technician Halim Allaw. Hajj Hasan was injured, but he tried to drive back and then go out of the car. When he failed to do so, he went of the car and then hit by a bullet that killed him.
The shooting also killed four Syrian soldiers who were in the area. After that, another unit of the Syrian army attacked the militants and clashed with them for an hour. All militants were killed in this clash. Following that, it was discovered that the three militants were hiding in secret cavities and caves in the area when the town was recaptured by the Syrian army. Investigators estimate that the militants did not manage to flee with other terrorists. When al-Manar crew arrived near St. Takla monastery, the militants hided between the houses in the area as they opened fire on the cars of al-Manar crew. It is worth to note that no one knows that al-Manar crew was coming from Beirut, and that the live coverage decision from Maaloula was taken at that moment, the daily reported.