Last updated: 26 February, 2012

Wife of photographer injured in Syria makes plea to Britain

The wife of a photographer injured in an army bombardment in the Syrian city of Homs on Sunday called on Britain to rescue her husband despite the government deeming the mission too dangerous.

British photographer Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier were wounded in the attack Wednesday which claimed the life of American war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik.

Conroy’s wife revealed that her husband had turned down the opportunity to leave the besieged city with the Syrian Red Crescent as he had been told that they were “not to be trusted”.

Britain’s Foreign Office has told Kate Conroy that any attempt to bring her husband home would present too high a risk considering the ongoing attacks in the city.

“I would like it if somebody in that embassy was to say ‘forget the protocol, I’m going and I’m going to get them out’ – but I know that is not going to happen,” Kate Conroy told BBC Radio 4.

“I have had quite a heated conversation with an MP and he has been absolutely categoric with me that that’s not going to happen.”

British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said the government was doing “everything we possibly can” to help the 47-year-old photographer.

Mitchell told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show that Conroy had been advised to reject offers of help from the Syrian Red Crescent humanitarian group as there was evidence it was being infiltrated.

Britain summoned Syria’s ambassador to London on Wednesday to demand that Syrian authorities facilitate “immediate arrangements for the repatriation of the journalists’ bodies”, as well as medical treatment for Conroy.

The Red Cross said Sunday it could attempt to evacuate the two injured journalists on Monday, adding it was too “dangerous” to pull them out Sunday night.

“The evacuation will not happen Sunday because it is dangerous to send ambulances at night,” said Saleh Dabbakeh, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus.

“It will take place most likely on Monday,” Dabbakeh said.

A Western diplomat in Damascus said that some “progress” was achieved in negotiations on Sunday, “but it is too late to go and get them because it is dark.”

The diplomat said the talks foundered because of “deep mistrust between the two sides” — the Syrian authorities and the opposition.

“This is making the negotiations very arduous,” said the diplomat.

Dabbakeh confirmed on Friday that the Red Cross and the Red Crescent had evacuated seven Syrians wounded in shelling, as well as 20 sick women and children, from Baba Amr. They were taken to Homs’ Al-Amine hospital.

But they were unable to evacuate Bouvier and Conroy, who both have leg wounds, and the bodies of two of their colleagues.