Driver working with NBC News killed in Syria

  • U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters fly their flag from a rooftop overlooking Baghouz, Syria, after the SDF declared the area free of Islamic State militants after months of fighting on Saturday, March 23, 2019.  The elimination of the last Islamic State stronghold in Baghouz brings to a close a grueling final battle that stretched across several weeks and saw thousands of people flee the territory and surrender in desperation, and hundreds killed.

    U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters fly their flag from a rooftop overlooking Baghouz, Syria, after the SDF declared the area free of Islamic State militants after months of fighting on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The elimination of the last Islamic State stronghold in Baghouz brings to a close a grueling final battle that stretched across several weeks and saw thousands of people flee the territory and surrender in desperation, and hundreds killed. Associated Press

 
 

BAGHOUZ, Syria -- A driver working with NBC News reporters in Syria was killed Saturday by an explosive device in eastern Syria, where several media outlets are covering the liberation of the last sliver of territory held by the Islamic State group.

Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, said in a statement that NBC employees escaped unharmed, and expressed "deepest sympathies" to the driver's family and loved ones.

"We are still gathering information from today's events, and are in touch with the driver's family to support them however we can," he said.

Several media outlets are in Syria to cover the military defeat of the Islamic State group in the small eastern village of Baghouz. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces declared victory over IS on Saturday after clearing the militants from their last position in the village following weeks of heavy fighting.

IS left behind booby-traps and explosive devices, and there may be unexploded munitions in the area following U.S.-led airstrikes.

The explosion happened in a house used as a command post by the SDF and a media center for reporters. The SDF was storing munitions inside the building.

The victory announced Saturday marks the end of the extremist group's self-styled caliphate, which once sprawled across a third of Syria and Iraq. However, unknown numbers of fighters and supporters are believed to have gone underground, and the group continues to carry out insurgent attacks in both countries.

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