Western embassies seek to shift reporters from Syria
DAMASCUS THE French, British and Polish embassies in Damascus were scrambling on Friday to try to evacuate two Western journalists wounded in Syria and the bodies of two others, a Western diplomat told AFP.
“The embassies of France, Britain and Poland are working closely together to evacuate the wounded and the bodies of the two journalists who were killed” in the flashpoint central city of Homs, the diplomat said.
Veteran US journalist Marie Colvin, working for Britain’s The Sunday Times, and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik, with the IP3 Press agency, were killed on Wednesday when a rocket hit a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr rebel district of Homs.
Edith Bouvier, a reporter for French daily Le Figaro and Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy were wounded.
Both have leg injuries.
The Polish embassy, which has represented US interests in Syria since Washington closed its Damascus embassy for security reasons, is involved in measures to evacuate Colvin’s body, the diplomat said.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe “solemnly” urged Syria to allow for the evacuation of the wounded journalists, as he arrived in Tunis on Friday for an international meeting on Syria.
Earlier, the French embassy said that Ambassador Eric Chevallier had returned to his post, more than two weeks after being recalled by Paris in response to the Syrian regime’s crackdown on dissent.
An embassy spokesman said that Chevallier returned to Damascus on Thursday night but declined to say if his return was related to efforts to evacuate the wounded journalists and the bodies of those killed. “We do not comment on this issue,” he said.
Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross said it hopes for a “positive response,” mainly from the authorities, to evacuate the foreign reporters from Homs, and to deliver aid.
“The negotiations have reached a very critical level and we are hoping for a positive answer,” Saleh Dabbakeh, the ICRC’s spokesman in Damascus, told AFP.
On Thursday Bouvier and William Daniels — a journalist who was on assignment for Le Figaro and Time magazine, pleaded in a video message for medical evacuation.
Bouvier, a reporter for the French daily Le Figaro, appeared calm and coherent, even occasionally smiling weakly as she addressed the camera, in a video shot by antiregime activists in the beleaguered Baba Amr suburb.
“My leg is broken at the level of the femur, along its length and also horizontally. I need to be operated upon as soon as possible,” she said