Last updated: 27 February, 2012

Sarkozy: Wounded reporters evacuation from Syria in sight

Efforts to evacuate foreign journalists from the rebel-held Baba Amr district of the flashpoint city of Homs failed on Monday, a Western diplomatic source in the Syrian capital said.

“The evacuation of journalists did not take place but three wounded Syrians were able to leave in Syrian Red Crescent ambulances,” the source said.

The head of the Arab-Syrian Red Crescent, Abdel Rahman Attar, also confirmed Monday that the negotiations and preparations under way Monday failed to lead to the evacuation of the journalists.

“Our team, composed of some 20 volunteers, extremely courageous with four ambulances and a hearse, entered Baba Amr and remained there for nearly three hours while representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) waited outside,” he said.

He said his team was told by an intermediary in Baba Amr that French reporter Edith Bouvier refused to leave if the conditions she insisted on were not met.

“We do not know her conditions and we do not know if she really refused because we were not able to have direct contact with her,” he added.

Earlier a negotiator in the evacuation efforts said they fell through “at the last minute after ambulances had entered Baba Amr,” but declined to specify if regime forces or rebels had blocked the operation.

The ICRC has been negotiating to rescue wounded Western journalists from Homs — under assault by regime forces for more than three weeks — and retrieve the bodies of two others killed there last week.

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