Japanese national feared captured by militants in Syria | Middle East Eye

Japanese national feared captured by militants in Syria

#SyriaWar

Islamic State supporters have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but Japanese officials are still investigating

Videos on Yukawa's YouTube channel show him testing out weaponry (You Tube/Haruna Yukawa)
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Wednesday 29 October 2014 4:15 GMT
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Japanese officials said Monday they are investigating a video posted online that appears to show fighters in Syria roughly interrogating a kidnapped Japanese man.

The video, which surfaced over the weekend, shows a man who identifies himself as Haruna Yukawa lying on the ground with blood trickling down his face as his apparent captors, whose affiliation has not been confirmed, question him in English.

In the video he says he is a "photographer" and a "journalist, half doctor".

"I'm no soldier," he said in the video, which in some descriptions also accuses the man of being a fighter for the Free Syrian Army.

Japan's foreign ministry said it was trying to verify the man's identity through its embassy which is now operating in Jordan due to the instability in Syria.

"We are aware of what has been reported in social media and are trying to verify the information" a foreign ministry official told AFP.

No one has claimed responsibility for the apparent kidnapping, said the official.

A variety of Islamic State-supporting Twitter accounts have claimed the group is responsible for the kidnapping, with one claiming the man was executed.

on Twitter on Twitter on Twitter

Japanese vice foreign minister Akitaka Saiki later told reporters that the civil war in Syria made it difficult to investigate the case.

"Syria is in a very confused state and we are seeking to confirm the safety of the person through various routes," he said.

Haruna Yukawa's YouTube account features a number of videos purportedly from Iraq and Syria.

One video, cited by IS-supporters as proof that Yukawa is a mercenary, shows him holding and testing an AK47 assault rifle

The video can be seen at the website of Tokyo-based private military firm PMC (Private Military Company), which lists Yukawa as its chief executive, who is shown beside some right-wing Japanese activists in pictures on the site, according to AFP.

Yukawa also confirms his position as the Chief Executive on his Facebook page.

Japanese nationals' involvement as combatants in foreign conflicts is limited, although the country's extensive media is usually well-represented in hotspots.

The kidnapping comes as at least 31 Islamic State militants were killed in Syrian air force raids Sunday in the northern province of Raqqa.

"The regime wants to show the Americans that it is also capable of striking the IS," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

"The regime strikes the IS where it is strong. In regions where the group is confronted by rebels, it doesn't intervene so that the two enemies weaken each other," he said.

"But once one party takes the upper hand, it strikes," said Abdel Rahman.

Since joining Syria's conflict, IS has also seized most of Deir Ezzor, another province on the Iraqi border with the majority of the country's oil fields, spreading terror as it imposes its own strict interpretation of Islam with penalties such as beheadings.

"The regime wants to show the Americans that it is also capable of striking the IS," said Abdel Rahman, whose group relies on information from opposition activists and medics on the ground.

"The regime strikes the IS where it is strong. In regions where the group is confronted by rebels, it doesn't intervene so that the two enemies weaken each other," he said.

"But once one party takes the upper hand, it strikes," said Abdel Rahman.

Since joining Syria's conflict, IS has also seized most of Deir Ezzor, another province on the Iraqi border, spreading terror as it imposes its own strict interpretation of Islam with penalties such as beheadings.

- See more at: http://test.middleeasteye.net/news/31-islamic-state-fighters-killed-assa...

At least 31 Islamic State militants were killed in Syrian air force raids Sunday in the northern province of Raqa, a stronghold of the militants, a monitoring group said. - See more at: http://test.middleeasteye.net/news/31-islamic-state-fighters-killed-assa...
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