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Herald Scotland

Wounded UK journalist is smuggled out of Syria

Published / News

BRITISH photographer Paul Conroy has escaped from the besieged Syrian city of Homs to Lebanon, his father Les confirmed yesterday.

"We've just had word from Beirut," Mr Conroy Sr said.

The photographer was injured in the bombardment which killed Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik.

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Mr Conroy Sr said he had not spoken to Paul – a father of three – but his wife had and she described their son as being in "very good spirits". He added: "We're all very relieved and happy Paul's out."

French reporter Edith Bouvier, of Le Figaro newspaper, who was injured in last week's attack by Syrian Government forces, was also safely out of Syria, according to reports.

Mr Conroy, 47, from Totnes, Devon, appealed for help earlier in a video posted on YouTube.

Lying on a sofa in a darkened room and covered in a blanket, he said he sustained "three large wounds" to his leg in the attack and was being looked after by Free Syrian Army medical staff. The freelance photojournalist, who was also hit in the stomach by shrapnel, added he wanted to reassure family and friends in Britain he was "absolutely okay".

Ms Bouvier, who suffered multiple leg fractures, was also seen ask- ing for help in being evacuated.

Teams from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent made their way into the embattled Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amro on Monday to remove casualties but apparently left without the wounded journalists or the bodies of their colleagues.

Syrian forces shelled an opposition stronghold in Hama province yesterday, killing 20 people and hit rebel-held parts of Homs, activists claimed.

President Bashar al Assad sent units of an elite armoured division, which is led by his brother Maher, into Homs overnight, activists said. Tanks with the words Fourth Division Monsters painted on them moved close to the besieged Baba Amro district.

In Hama province, security forces bombarded the town of Helfaya, a hotbed of protests in the uprising against Mr Assad.

Activists said the deaths of 20 Sunni Muslim villagers there were among at least 100 killed in the province in the last two weeks in revenge for rebel Free Syrian Army attacks on security forces commanded by members of Mr Assad's minority Alawite sect.

At a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Syrian Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui walked out after calling on countries to stop "inciting sectarianism and providing arms" to opposition forces in the country. He said: "We reaffirm to all those alleged friends of the Syrian people the simple step to immediately help the Syrian people is to stop inciting sectarianism, providing arms and weapons and funding and putting the Syrian people one against the other.

"Unjust and unilateral sanctions imposed by some countries on the Syrian people are preventing access to medicines, to fuel in all forms as well as electricity, and are also impeding bank transfers to buy these materials."

France, meanwhile, said the UN Security Council would start work on a proposed resolution to halt the violence in Syria and enable humanitarian access to victims.

Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the focus would be on Homs and added: "We hope Russia and China will not oppose the proposed resolution. Given the emergency, it's time all the council members, without exception, put a stop to this barbarity."

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