Tuesday 12 December 2017

Video: Syria - French journalist appeals for evacuation and urgent medical attention

EDITH Bouvier, a French reporter for Le Figaro, has appealed for urgent medical attention and asked to be evacuated quickly from the Syrian flashpoint city of Homs.

Her appeal came as the Syrian information minister claimed the governor of Homs had been told to try to evacuate Western journalists killed or wounded in the besieged Baba Amr district, following the deaths of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik.

Adnan Mahmum, the information minister told the AFP news agency: "For humanitarian reasons, and although they entered the country without a permit to go to an area controlled by terrorists, the governor of Homs has been told to exert every effort possible to evacuate the journalists."

Veteran Sunday Times reporter Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik, with the IP3 Press agency, were killed on Wednesday when a rocket hit a makeshift media centre in the rebel district.

Ms Bouvier, a reporter for French daily Le Figaro and Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy were wounded.

Syrian rebels posted a video on YouTube today in which she said she needed urgent medical attention and asked to be evacuated quickly.

"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," said Bouvier, who appeared calm and coherent, even occasionally smiling weakly.

"The doctors here have treated me very well, as much as they are able, but they are not able to undertaken surgical procedures," she said.

"I need a ceasefire and a medically-equipped vehicle, or at least one in good condition, that can get me to the Lebanese border so that I can be treated in the shortest possible time," she said, lying on a sofa under a blanket.

She is seen alongside a man in medical scrubs with a stethoscope who spoke briefly in Arabic to describe Bouvier's condition and repeat her request to be evacuated urgently. In the distance explosions can be heard.

Bouvier said the video was shot on Thursday at 3.00. It was posted on the YouTube file-sharing site and Syrian activists opposed to Bashar al-Assad's regime quickly emailed links to it to news organisations.

The Foreign Office meanwhile said on Thursday Conroy was "on his way out" of the besieged city.

"We understand that Paul Conroy is on his way out of Homs to a neighbouring country where he will be receiving medical treatment," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Syria's information ministry said it could not give details on whether or not Conroy had already managed to leave Homs.

Western powers condemned Syria over the killing of the journalists, with Washington denouncing the regime's "shameless brutality" and Paris holding Syrian authorities responsible.

But Damascus on Thursday said it was not responsible for the deaths of the journalists who had "sneaked" into the country, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Russia and China meanwhile have rejected pressure to change their position on Syria after vetoing a United Nations resolution condemning the Damascus regime for its bloody crackdown on the opposition.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, called his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi to discuss the two powers' future strategy on the crisis, less than a month after the UN Security Council vote.

"The sides reaffirmed the joint position of Russia and China," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Moscow and Beijing seek "a speedy end to any violence in Syria and the launch of inclusive dialogue between the authorities and the opposition without preconditions for a settlement, and that excluded foreign intervention in Syrian affairs".

The Russian ministry did not spell out what future actions the two countries had agreed to take amid their continued resistance to any foreign military presence in the country.

Western powers have thus far refused to seriously mull military intervention but are considering humanitarian mission to help civilians that may require the protection of a small foreign force.

The decision by the two veto-wielding Security Council members to block the Western-Arab resolution sparked widespread condemnation and was followed by a renewed attack by government forces on the opposition stronghold of Homs.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, on Wednesday called the leaders of Saudi Arabia as well as Iraq and Iran to shore up regional support for Moscow's stance.

But Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency said King Abdullah told Mr Medvedev that his calls for Syrian dialogue were "futile" and that Russia should have "coordinated with the Arabs ... before using the veto".

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