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WATCH: MEE contributor describes how he survived Syria drone strike

'I thought the earth had split and the car was falling into the earth,' said journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem after walking away from destroyed vehicle
Photo of vehicle from which Bilal Abdul Kareem and others walked away unscathed (YouTube)

Bilal Abdul Kareem, a journalist and Middle East Eye contributor working in rebel-held northern Syria, was in a car hit by a drone strike on Sunday. Amazingly, both he and the driver walked away from the mangled vehicle.

Abdul Kareem and his crew had been filming outdoors shortly before and were waiting to interview a fighter with the al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front when the attack occurred.

"As we are sitting there in the car, all of a sudden everything goes black," Abdul Kareem told MEE in an interview conducted via Skype.

"I thought they had hit the earth and the earth had split and the car was falling into the earth. But what was happening is that when the car was hit, it went airborne, flipped over and it pointed us in the opposite direction on its side."

On Wednesday, a building where Abdul Kareem and his On The Ground News team had been working until a few days previously was hit by a missile strike, killing three people.

Abdul Kareem does not know who was responsible for either incident, but said he and his crew appeared to have been the targets of missile strikes four times in recent weeks and believes journalists are being attacked to prevent them from reporting in rebel-held areas.

Last week, Khaled al-Essa, a cameraman working with Syrian journalist and activist Hadi Abdallah, was killed by an explosive device planted at his home in Aleppo. Abdallah was wounded in the attack.

"Targeting a journalist is a war crime," said Abdul Kareem. "These are all prominent people involved in bringing the stories that are locked in these territories to the rest of the world... It is natural they would target people who were bringing these stories out."

Despite the risks, Abdul Kareem told MEE he was determined to continue reporting from Syria: "I don't have a choice whether to stay or not. I have to do what is right."

Watch the full interview above.

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