Syria shelling of Homs kills 2 Western journalists
By Bassem Mroue, AP
February 23, 2012, 12:10 am TWN
The Obama administration opened the door slightly Tuesday to international military assistance for Syria's rebels, with officials saying new tactics may have to be explored if Assad continues to defy pressure to halt a brutal crackdown on dissenters that has raged for 11 months and killed thousands.
The White House and State Department said they still hope for a political solution. But faced with the daily onslaught by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians, officials dropped the administration's previous strident opposition to arming anti-regime forces. It remained unclear, though, what, if any, role the U.S. might play in providing such aid.
A Homs-based activist, Omar Shaker, said the journalists were killed when several rockets hit a garden of a house used by activists and journalists in the besieged Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, which has come under weeks of heavy bombardment by forces from Assad's regime. At least 13 people were killed in Wednesday's shelling, including the journalists, activists said.
The U.N. estimates that 5,400 people have been killed in repression by the regime of President Bashar Assad against a popular uprising that began 11 months ago. Syrian activists, however, put the death toll at more than 7,300.
He added that intense Syrian troops shelling with tanks and artilleries began at 6:30 a.m. and was continuing hours later. He said the apartment used by journalists was hit around 10 a.m.
Many foreign journalists have been sneaking into Syria illegally in the past months with the help of smugglers from Lebanon and Turkey. Although the Syrian government has allowed some journalists into the country their movement is tightly controlled by Information Ministry minders.
Colvin, from Oyster Bay, New York, was in her 50s and a veteran foreign correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times for the past two decades. She was instantly recognizable for an eye patch worn after being injured covering conflicts in Sri Lanka in 2001. Colvin said she would not “hang up my flak jacket” even after the eye injury.
IRC Holds Talks with SNC
In Geneva, the International Red Cross said it was holding talks with members of the opposition Syrian National Council. The ICRC called Tuesday for a daily two-hour halt to fighting in Syria so it can bring emergency aid to affected areas and evacuate the wounded and sick.
Head of ICRI operations for the Middle East, Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the ICRC had almost no contacts with opposition figures inside Syria.
The journalists' deaths came a day after a Syrian sniper shot dead Rami al-Sayyed, a prominent activist in Baba Amr who was famous for posting online videos, Shaker and the Local Coordination Committees activist group said.
In this file photo dated March 11, 2008, journalist Marie Colvin is seen in London.