BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Wounded foreign journalists trapped inside a besieged rebel-held neighborhood in Syria on Thursday appealed for a ceasefire so they could be evacuated and receive proper medical care.
French journalist Edith Bouvier and Paul Conroy, a British photographer from the Sunday Times, made their plea by video as the sound of rocket fire echoed in the background.
They were two of six Western journalists who came under fire on Wednesday when Syrian forces attacked the building where they were hiding in Baba Amro, an opposition stronghold in the central city of Homs.
American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were among 80 people killed in bombardments that day.
Activists in Syria say the neighborhood is now encircled by Syrian troops who had been sporadically firing rockets on the area. They posted Boivier and Conroy’s statements on YouTube.
Bouvier, propped up with pillows and covered in blankets, said field hospital doctors had treated her as well as they could but did not have the equipment to operate.
“I need to be operated on as soon as possible,” she said.
Bouvier, whose thigh was tightly wrapped in bandages and seemed very calm, said her femur was shattered.
“I would like a ceasefire to be put in place as soon as possible and a medically equipped car, or in any case one in good condition, that can drive us to Lebanon so that we can be treated without delay.”
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have intensified their crackdown on the 11-month revolt against four decades of Assad family rule. They have been shelling rebel-held areas of Homs for 20 straight days, killing hundreds and gutting buildings.
Activists and diplomats are working to evacuate the journalists and the bodies of Colvin and Ochlik.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry offered condolences for the families of the journalists killed but said it was not responsible for reporters who illegally entered the country.
Syria has restricted access into Syria and the reporters had uses smugglers to get into opposition strongholds.
On Wednesday, the Information Ministry called for authorities in Homs to find the foreigners “and follow up on the situation of the journalists said to be wounded in Homs.”
“IT’S AN ASSASSINATION”
The International Committee for the Red Cross said it was trying to negotiate daily two hour ceasefires in Homs to provide aid to civilians in violence-hit areas.
In his video message, Conroy appeared relaxed and said he was in good health.
“I’m currently being looked after by the Free Syrian Army medical staff…Obviously any assistance we can be given by agencies would be welcome,” he said.
Activists say conditions are very bad in Baba Amro, with electricity and phone lines cut and food running low. Conroy spoke by lantern-light as he lay on pillows on the floor. His swollen thigh was wrapped in white bandages.
The doctor treating him and Bouvier warned that surgery was critical to prevent blood clots in her leg, which could put her body into toxic shock and put her at risk of death.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the rocket assault that killed the journalists on Wednesday an “assassination.”
“I saw the pictures, it’s an assassination,” he said, referring to the picture. “Those who carried out the assassination will have to pay for it.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron, at a London news conference, said the Syrian government was guilty of butchery and murder.