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Syria

Trapped French journalists plead for rescue from Homs

Two French reporters injured in the shelling of Syria’s besieged city of Homs on Wednesday have pleaded to be rescued. In a video message Edith Bouvier and William Daniels asked for medical evacuation while efforts were underway to get a fifth journalist, injured in the attack, to safety. 

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Bouvier, a reporter for French daily Le Figaro, appeared calm and coherent in the video as she described how her leg had been broken and she needed to be operated on as soon as possible.

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

Daniels said he had not been hurt in the attack, but warned the situation was getting harder, with no power and little food getting through during the siege.

American journalist Marie Colvin of Britain's The Sunday Times and freelance French photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in the attack, while Colvin's British photographer colleague Paul Conroy, 47, was wounded.

Assad's regime insisted it could not be held responsible for the deaths of journalists who had "sneaked" across the border without visas and were working in "trouble-hit areas".

But Information Minister Adnan Mahmud told the French news agency that the governor of Homs had been ordered to find the reporters and bring them out safely.

Meanwhile, calls are mounting for aid agencies to be given immediate access to Homs and other besieged Syrian cities.

"The accounts we are hearing from Homs are increasingly dire, with people lacking the most basic amenities," said the interim deputy director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme, Ann Harrison.

Human Rights Watch said its reports indicated that 20,000 residents remained in Baba Amr and that video footage showed the army using Russian-made 240 mm mortar systems which fire the world's largest high explosive mortar bombs.

The calls comes as more than 60 nations are gathering in Tunisia for the first ‘Friends of Syria’ conference, amid continuing violence in Homs and a growing global outcry over the deaths of thousands of civilians.

But the conference of Arab and Western foreign ministers will be marked by the absence of Russia and China - highlighting the difficulty in building an international consensus.

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