Tuesday, 28 February 2012

UK photographer Paul Conroy out of Homs

10:57 |


British Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy has been evacuated from the besieged Syrian city of Homs and is in neighbouring Lebanon. He was smuggled out of the Baba Amr district on Monday with help from the Syrian opposition and Free Syria Army fighters, diplomats told the BBC. The whereabouts of the French Le Figaro journalist Edith Bouvier remain unclear. The two were wounded in an attack on a makeshift media centre last Wednesday. American Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed. The Syrian Red Crescent said earlier that it had reached Baba Amr on Monday, bringing out three Syrians, including a pregnant woman, her husband and an elderly female patient, but that it had been unable to bring out the Western journalists or the bodies of their colleagues. Reports on Tuesday said Homs had come under some of its heaviest bombardment yet, with the government sending in units of an elite armoured division into rebel-held districts to try to end the three-week-long offensive. It comes as the United Nations Human Rights Council is set to hold an emergency session in Geneva to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Syria. 'Warning shot' Mr Conroy's father, Les, confirmed reports that his 47-year-old photographer son was safe in Lebanon. "We've just had word from Beirut. I've got it on the other phone in my other hand," he was quoted by the Press Association as saying. Edith Bouvier, speaking on 23 February: "I need an urgent operation" The movements of Devon-based Paul Conroy had been shrouded in discretion because of fears for his safety, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from Beirut. Syrian opposition sources said he was smuggled out of Baba Amr on Monday, taken through the Syrian countryside before crossing the border into Lebanon during the night. In a video posting a few days ago, Mr Conroy had said he received "three large wounds" to his leg and was being treated by Free Syria Army medical staff. Ms Bouvier was more seriously wounded, suffering multiple leg fractures. Some reports on Tuesday suggested she too had been smuggled into Lebanon, but other reports said she may not have been evacuated from Baba Amr. There has been no word either on what has happened to the bodies of Marie Colvin and Remi. Ms Colvin's mother Rosemarie told the BBC's Today programme of her hope that her daughter's body could be brought home. "I want my daughter back and I can't rest myself, I can't have peace in my life, with my daughter's remains in that country," she said. The Syrian government appears to have stepped up its offensive against rebels across the country - sending forces into several towns in northern Syria for the first time. As many as 125 people died across Syria on Monday, many of them in a single incident at a checkpoint in Homs, the Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), an activists' group said. However, it is difficult to independently verify the death tolls and individual incidents as media access across the country is tightly restricted. Members of the UNHCR are due to discuss a confidential report that names Syrian officials believed to be responsible for atrocities. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: "The task of the council is to express the disgust of the entire world at the odious crimes that the Syrian state is committing against its people." He has urged the 47 nations in the council to be prepared to submit a complaint against Syria to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. A UN panel of experts last week delivered a confidential list of Syrian army officers and government officials who could be investigated for crimes against humanity. Their report found that Syria had become increasingly militarised, and they accused security forces of gross and systematic human rights violations. "The day will come when the civilian and military authorities in Syria, in particular President Assad himself, will need to answer for their actions," Mr Juppe said.

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