Two Turkish journalists missing in Syria are alive and have been handed over to Syrian government authorities, a Turkish deputy prime minister said, and Ankara is working to secure their release.
There has been no contact with Adem Ozkose, who works for the Milat newspaper, and cameraman Hamit Coskun for a week since they travelled to the Syrian city of Idlib, the scene of heavy fighting between the Syrian army and insurgent forces.
"News has been received that they are alive, but are in the hands of officials on the side of the Syrian regime," Turkish media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc as saying.
"First of all, we are pleased. We received news that they are alive. The Foreign Ministry will follow up their return to Turkey," Arinc said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry however said it could not confirm the whereabouts of the two reporters.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it held Syrian authorities responsible for their safety and called for their immediate release.
The two arrived in Idlib province, just across the border from Turkey, a week ago, the newspaper and activists said.
Turkey's Hatay province has become a staging post for reporters attempting to cross the porous border to cover the protests and fighting in nearby areas of Syria.
But the work has become increasingly dangerous with two reporters, American veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, killed in the fighting in Syria and at least one more wounded.