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Syrian Uprising: Veteran War Reporter Marie Colvin Killed in Homs, a City ‘waiting for a Massacre’

Posted on the 22 February 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Syrian uprising: Veteran war reporter Marie Colvin killed in Homs, a city ‘waiting for a massacre’

Destruction in Homs, Syria. Photo credit: Freedom House

Veteran Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed today in the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs after President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces shelled the building where they were meeting anti-regime activists. The deaths have underlined the fast-deteriorating situation in Homs where the Red Cross has attempted to broker a cease-fire to allow emergency aid in.

American Colvin, known for wearing a black eye patch after she lost an eye due to a shrapnel wound while working in Sri Lanka in 2001, and celebrated young photographer Ochlik, were killed when the building in Baba Amr district was hit by a shell, Al Jazeera reported. At the time of her death, Colvin was the only British newspaper journalist in Homs. The New York Times’ two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid died last week of an apparent asthma attack while covering a story in eastern Syria.

Syrian security forces have been shelling rebel city Homs for the past three weeks. Hundreds of citizens have been killed in the assault, which has drawn widespread international condemnation. More than 7,000 people have been killed since protests against Assad’s rule flared in March last year.

The news comes just hours after the foreign correspondent reported on ‘sickening’ scenes in the war-torn city of Homs,” reported The Daily Mail, which said the pair were killed when attempting to escape a makeshift media center which had come under shellfire. Last night, Colvin appeared on Channel 4 and ITN’s News at Ten reporting on the bombardment of the opposition stronghold.

Colvin’s harrowing  Tuesday report from Homs for the BBC – her last report – can be viewed her. In it she says, “I watched a little baby die today … Absolutely horrific.”

In a piece for The Sunday Times this weekend, Colvin spoke of the citizens of the city “waiting for a massacre.” “The scale of human tragedy in the city is immense. The inhabitants are living in terror. Almost every family seems to have suffered the death or injury of a loved one.”

“Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price,” said Colvin at a 2010 media event, reported The Daily Mail. “It has never been more dangerous to be a war correspondent, because the journalist in the combat zone has become a prime target.”

Throughout her career Colvin covered many conflicts around the world, most recently Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in the grips of the Arab spring. Phillipe Naughton of The Times paid tribute to Colvin. “Colvin is known for the immediacy and impact of her award-wining reports from frontlines across the Middle East and beyond. She lost an eye in a grenade attack during an assignment in Sri Lanka in 2001 — but still managed to file a 3,000 word report for her newspaper that weekend,” he praised.

The Daily Mail flagged up Colvin’s many journalistic achievements. She won the British press award for ‘Best Foreign Correspondent’ twice, for her work in reporting the conflict in Yugoslavia, Iran, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe; the International Women’s Media Foundation award for ‘Courage in Journalism’ for her coverage of Kosovo and Chechnya, and the Foreign Press Association’s Journalist of the Year award. Colvin wrote and produced the BBC documentary Arafat: Behind the Myth and presented a documentary on Martha Gellhorn, the war correspondent famed for her coverage of the Spanish Civil War. Ochlik had covered the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and had had his work published in Le Monde, Paris Match, Time Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

Time to arm the opposition? Murray Wardrop of The Daily Telegraph said the developments in Homs “come as the United States appeared to ease their stance on eventually arming the Syrian opposition, saying if a political solution to the crisis were impossible it might have to consider other options.” Wardrop said that the recent comments, made by officials at both the White House and the State Department, “marked a shift in emphasis by Washington, which thus far has stressed its policy of not arming the opposition and has said little about alternatives.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with representatives of some 70 countries in Tunis on Friday for the first “Friends of Syria” meeting to coordinate the international community’s next steps to respond the nearly year-long uprising against al-Assad.

More on the Middle East

  • Libya: One year on, the turmoil continues
  • Arab League toughens stance on Syria
  • World leaders line up to condemn Syria
  • Israel and Iran headed for war

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