BAGHDAD — The bodies of two Iraqi journalists killed in Syria's civil war have been handed over to Baghdad, an Iraqi official said.
The journalists' remains were received at the al-Waleed border crossing on Monday night, according to Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Dulaimi, an army commander in Iraq's western Anbar province that borders Syria.
The handover came as Syrian government forces, backed by helicopter gunships, have battled rebels in heavy clashes in Damascus during the past three days. The uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad broke out in March last year. Activists say the government crackdown has claimed the lives of more than 17,000 people.
Al-Dulaimi said the two journalists died in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana but it's unclear when or how. There has been no fighting there over the past few days. He said cards from the Iraqi journalists' syndicate were found in their pockets, identifying them as Ali Juburi and Falah Taha.
The Baghdad-based independent Journalists' Freedom Observatory said Juburi was an editor of a weekly newspaper while Taha was a free-lance reporter. JFO is warning Iraqi reporters not to travel to Syria.
Also Tuesday, attackers killed a senior security official in a drive-by shooting in southern Baghdad, police and health officials said.
Col. Adnan Qahtan of Interior Ministry's Intelligence Service was driving his own private car in the Saydiyah neighborhood when the attackers opened fire a police officer said. A health official in a nearby hospital confirmed the death. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.