Wednesday 22 February 2012

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: Summary (22/02/2012): Another day, another slaughter as at least 97 martyrs have fallen today 65 of them in Baba Amru, Homs. God knows how many injuried. Hundreds were arrested in Hall Souq in the heart of Damascus when security forces closed the two entrances. Meanwhile, in Qamishli in the north east thousands turned out for the funeral of Nasreddin Barhek, a leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria, who died today after being injured in an assaassination attempt last week. Syria – Wednesday 22/02/2012 – Google Maps


Rami al-Sayed, 27 years old from Homs, married with a baby daughter. Rami risked and eventually lost his life recording what was happening in Homs and sharing it with the world via Youtube and Livestream. On 21/02/2012 he was hit and killed by shrapnel during the bombardment of Baba Amru.
 Martyrs 2

British Syrians & Friends in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution: A channel 4 documentary: Syria: the horror of Homs, a city at war
 Syria: the horror of Homs, a city at war A French photojournalist reveals graphic pictures of what is happening to people in the under-siege Syrian city of Homs.

ALEPPO (22/02/2012): The students in Aleppo university have been at the front of the protest movement in the city. In recent days, despite the raids and arrests and the threat of expulsion, they have kept protesting on an almost daily basis. Today’s protests were particularly large. This video shows them charging some of the regime’s thugs to rescue a student who was being beaten.
 Aleppo University 22/02/2012

UPDATE (22/02/2012): At least 30 martyrs – mostly in Baba Amru area of Homs. Rastan, Kafar al-Toun (Hama countryside), Khan Shaykhun are also all under shelling. School students have protested near the centre of Damascus while in Aleppo students have destroyed a statue of Hafez al-Assad in the University. Meanwhile the Kurdish leader Nasreddin Barhek has died from his injuries following an assassination attempt last week.
 Baba Amru, Homs 22/02/2012

“They were named as Marie Colvin, an American working for Britain’s Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik. A witness reached by Reuters from Amman said shells hit the house in which they were staying and a rocket hit them when they were escaping. Both were veteran correspondents of wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.” Two Western journalists killed in Syria

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]
 21:20 Britain summoned the Syrian ambassador on Wednesday to lodge a protest over the deaths of two Western journalists and demand the repatriation of their bodies, the Foreign Office said.
 21:17 Iraqi security forces on Wednesday arrested the head of Ansar al-Sunna, a Sunni insurgent group said to be linked to Al-Qaeda, the counter-terrorism chief for Anbar province said.
 20:35 Syria will exhaust its foreign currency reserves in three to five months, sparking crisis in an economy reeling from sanctions over its crackdown on protests, a Western diplomat said Wednesday.
 20:30 The White House offered its condolences over the deaths of two Western journalists Wednesday in Syria, saying its “thoughts and prayers” were with their relatives.
 20:10 UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is to ask the Syrian government for permission to visit to assess the growing crisis in the country, a UN spokesperson said Wednesday.
 19:18 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in telephone talks on Wednesday that they reject foreign intervention in the Syria crisis, the Kremlin said.
 19:03 Senior Republican US Senator John McCain said on Wednesday that the world must come to the help of Syrians and stop the “massacre” there as it came to the aid of people of Kosovo and Bosnia.
 18:22 Syrian National Council member Mohammad Sarmini said on Wednesday that military intervention in Syria “is a necessity” for the sake of protecting Syrian civilians.
 18:15 The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the “unacceptable” killings Wednesday of veteran US reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik in the Syrian town of Homs.
 18:02 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 81 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 17:46 More than 60 people were killed by the Syrian army’s shelling of Homs’ neighborhood of Baba Amr, Al-Jazeera reported on Wednesday.
 17:35 Members of the Syrian National Council met with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva on Wednesday for talks on getting vital aid to crisis-hit areas.
 16:53 The European Union is set to slap fresh sanctions on Syria, including a ban on Syrian-run cargo flights into the 27-nation bloc, EU diplomats said Wednesday.
 16:28 An international conference on Syria this week will do little to help resolve the crisis and the delay is dragging the country closer to full-scale civil war, an opposition figurehead warned Wednesday.
 16:15 Syrian security forces killed 51 people on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 16:11 Russia on Wednesday condemned the killing of a US war correspondent and French photojournalist in the Syrian flashpoint city of Homs.
 15:41 Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that dialogue on Syria was “futile,” the official SPA news agency reported on Wednesday.
 15:33 The killing of two Western journalists in Syria is “another example of the shameless brutality” of the Syrian regime, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told AFP on Wednesday.
 15:32 Syrian authorities were not aware that two Western journalists who were killed Wednesday in Homs had entered the country, said Information Minister Adnan Mahmud.
 15:15 The Syrian government on Wednesday blamed the deterioration in healthcare services in the country on sanctions imposed on the regime for its bloody crackdown on protests and on rebel attacks.
 14:54 The Syrian army shelled Hama’s Kafr al-Ton on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying, adding that casualties were reported.
 14:17 Syrian forces have been shelling the town of Rastan in the Homs district since Wednesday morning, Al-Arabiya television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
 14:17 Russia said Wednesday it opposed establishing humanitarian corridors for reaching civilians in Syria.
 14:12 France on Wednesday demanded access to the victims of an attack in Syria that killed a US war correspondent and French photojournalist, and summoned Syria’s envoy to Paris.
 13:39 A Syrian activist and citizen cameraman who has been documenting the regime’s assault on the city of Homs was killed in army shelling, a fellow activist said on Wednesday.
 13:36 Syrian forces’ gunfire has left casualties in Harasta in the Damascus district on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera  television quoted activists as saying.
 12:50 Syrian security forces’ gunfire has killed 20 people in Homs on Wednesday, among them Western civilians, Al-Jazeera television quoted the Local Coordination Committees as saying.
 12:18 One of two Western journalists killed on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Homs was a Frenchman, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s spokesperson Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told reporters.
 11:58 The Syrian National Council said on Wednesday that what was happening in Syria showed that military intervention was the only solution, Al-Jazeera television reported.
 11:52 Syria’s main opposition group on Wednesday urged the international community to create “safe havens” in the
country and called on Russia to force the regime to allow access for humanitarian convoys.
 11:41 Russia on Wednesday expressed “serious concern” about the humanitarian situation in Syria and said it backed an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) call for a daily two-hour truce that could provide help to civilians.

 11:40 Syrian forces have raided the Al-Mezzeh and Jawber neighborhoods in Damascus on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 11:06 Syrian security forces have raided the village of Basr al-Harir in Daraa on Wednesday morning, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 10:37 Two Western journalists were killed on Wednesday in shelling by Syrian regime forces of the flashpoint city of Homs, an activist said.
 10:25 The Syrian death toll reached 7,636 since last March, AFP reported on Wednesday.
 10:01 The Syrian army has renewed its shelling of the city of Homs and loud blasts are being heard, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying on Wednesday morning.
 8:35 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will head to Tunisia this week for a major conference on violence-torn Syria and also stop in nearby Algeria and Morocco, the State Department said Tuesday.
 8:00 MORNING LEADER: Syrian forces killed at least 68 civilians Tuesday as they blitzed the city of Homs and a village in Edleb province, monitors said, as the United States expressed support for a humanitarian ceasefire proposed by the Red Cross.

BBC: Journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik die in Homs

Two prominent Western journalists have been killed in the Syrian city of Homs in the latest violence which left 60 people dead across Syria on Wednesday.

Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, an American, and award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik died when a shell hit a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr district.

Troops are shelling opposition-held areas of Homs, besieged for weeks.

Thousands have died in unrest against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Tuesday Rami al-Sayed, a man who broadcast a live video stream from Homs used by world media, was killed in Baba Amr.

The Red Cross has called on the government and rebels to agree to a daily ceasefire, to allow medical supplies to reach the worst affected areas and get civilians out, but there is no sign yet of this being agreed.

‘Dreadful events’

Ms Colvin and Mr Ochlik were reportedly staying in a house in Baba Amr that was being used by activists as a media centre when it was hit by a shell on Wednesday morning.

Rockets were also said to have hit the building’s garden when people tried to flee afterwards.

At least two other foreign journalists were wounded, activists said.

One was named as British freelance photographer Paul Conroy, who was working with Ms Colvin, and Edith Bouvier of the French newspaper, Le Figaro. Ms Bouvier was said to be in a serious condition. The dead and the injured journalists are said to have been taken to a field clinic in Baba Amr.

Activists have expressed fears that Ms Bouvier risks bleeding to death without urgent medical attention and they were trying to get her out.

Syrian state television said the information ministry had asked officials in Homs to determine the location of foreign journalists because it had learned that some may have been injured.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said his country held the Syrian government accountable for the deaths. “Damascus owes us an answer,” Mr Juppe said.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament: “This is a desperately sad reminder of the risks that journalists take to inform the world of what is happening, and the dreadful events in Syria.”

Later, the Syrian ambassador to London was summoned to be told that the UK expected Damascus to arrange for the immediate repatriation of the journalists’ bodies and to provide medical treatment for the injured British journalist.

The US state department referred to “another example of the shameless brutality” of the Syrian regime.

The editor of the Sunday Times, John Witherow, said it was doing what it could to recover Ms Colvin’s body and get Mr Conroy to safety.

Marie Colvin: Reports and tributes

“Marie was an extraordinary figure in the life of the Sunday Times, driven by a passion to cover wars in the belief that what she did mattered,” he added. “She believed profoundly that reporting could curtail the excesses of brutal regimes and make the international community take notice.”

Her mother told journalists Ms Colvin’s legacy was: “Be passionate and be involved in what you believe in. And do it as thoroughly and honestly and fearlessly as you can.”

Mr Ochlik, 28, had reported from Haiti and covered many of the recent uprisings in the Arab world.

 Sunday Times Editor John Witherow: “She may have been targeted”

Ms Colvin, in her 50s, had been a foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times for two decades, and had reported from several war zones. She lost the sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001 after being hit by shrapnel.

On Tuesday, she told the BBC the bombardment of Baba Amr by Syrian government artillery and tanks had been “unrelenting”.

“I watched a little baby die today, absolutely horrific, a two year old – found the shrapnel had gone into the left chest and the doctor said: ‘I can’t do anything,’ and his little tummy just kept heaving until he died. That is happening over and over and over.

“There are 28,000 people in Baba Amr,” she added. “The Syrians will not let them out and are shelling all the civilian areas.

The Sunday Times on Wednesday made available Ms Corvin’s last article in which she said, “We live in fear of a massacre“.

Western journalists have mostly been barred from Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last March.

But increasingly, they have risked entering the country undercover, helped by networks of activists, to report from flashpoints.

Last month, the French television journalist, Gilles Jacquier, was killed in Homs while visiting the city on a government-organised trip.

Anthony Shadid, of the New York Times, died of an apparent asthma attack in Syria last week.

As many as 50 people are feared to have been killed on Tuesday in the northern province of Idlib.

New videos posted online by activists in Idlib suggest opponents of President Assad were the victims of summary executions.


image of Lyse DoucetLyse Doucet BBC News

Marie would not want any tribute to leave out mention of the people she met, the stories she heard. She often spoke of how humbled she was by the “quiet bravery of civilians”.

We’ve come to expect that wherever something of consequence was happening, Marie would be there. Her signature was not just to go to a story, but to stay for as long as she could, regardless of the danger or discomfort.

She admired the pioneering journalism of fellow American Martha Gelhorn. I always saw her as the Martha of our generation: brave and beautiful. A woman with a wicked laugh, a sensitive soul, and a steely determination to tell the stories that mattered. She had both guts and glamour.

I remember a conversation long ago where she told me a partner wanted her to be what she called a “Laura Ashley” – pretty and perfect in the home. But that wasn’t Marie and she knew it. She was, without exception, a kind and considerate colleague and fellow traveller, a woman who inspired and engaged.

REUTERS: Assad forces renew barrage on Syria’s Homs

Photo AMMAN/BEIRUT – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces rained rockets and bombs down on opposition-held neighborhoods of the city of Homs, reducing buildings to rubble and killing more than 80 people, including two Western journalists. | Video