Two western journalists-- Marie Colvin, an American reporter working for The Sunday Times of London, and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer — have been killed in Homs after their makeshift media center in an opposition held building came under fire.
Video footage posted online showed two bodies, apparently of the two journalists lying face down in the rubble, inside a building that, according to activists has served as an opposition media center. Three other western journalists, including Edith Bouvier, a freelancer for the French daily Le Figaro have been injured during the attack.
Another casualty was that of Paul Conroy, a British freelance photographer with the Sunday Times. Both Ms. Bouvier and Mr. Conroy appeared on a YouTube video with heavily bandaged legs in a temporary clinic. The Sunday Times quoting initial reports said that Mr. Conroy was not seriously hurt, but injuries to Ms. Bouvier could be serious.
The two fatalities in Homs of the western journalists follows the death less than a week ago of Anthony Shadid, a star correspondent from the New York Times. Mr. Shadid had died, apparently after suffering a massive asthma attack on his way back to Turkey from Syria, where he had slipped in to cover events covertly for three weeks.
A witness contacted by Reuters from Amman said shells hit the house in the opposition-held Baba Amro district of Homs which was being used as a media center. A rocket hit the two scribes when they tried to escape.
Colvin had earlier lost an eye in Sri Lanka from a shrapnel injury in 2001. Since then she had been identified with her trademark black eye patch. Ochlik was born in France in 1983, and was known for his work in Haiti, as well as for the imaginative coverage through his lens of the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
In Paris, Soazig Dollet, Middle East Director of Reporters without Borders said: “We don't know if the building was deliberately targeted... we urge Syrian authorities to stop bombing Homs.”
The killing of the two journalists has triggered loud condemnations in the West. British Prime Minister, David Cameron said that Colvin's death was a reminder of the dangers facing journalists covering the “dreadful events” in Syria. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the killings in Homs reinforced the call for the fall of the Syrian regime. “There is no reason why Syrians should not have the right to live their lives, to freely choose their destiny,” he said.
The deaths of journalists are likely to intensify calls for exit of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad during a meeting on Friday in Tunis of the newly formed western backed forum, Friends of Syria Group. The Syrian opposition will also be present at the forum, which resembles the previous Libya Contact Group, which played a significant part in bringing down former Libyan leader, Muammar Qadhafi.
While the calls for Mr. Assad's are growing louder, media reports suggest significant infiltration in the opposition's ranks of the Al-Qaeda. Alluding to the murky composition of the Syrian opposition and advocating caution before a decision is taken to arm the opposition, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey in an interview to CNN said: “I think it's premature to take a decision to arm the opposition movement in Syria, because I would challenge anyone to clearly identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point.”