Beirut, Feb 23 : Syrian gunners pounded an opposition stronghold on Wednesday where the last dispatches from a veteran American war correspondent chronicled the suffering of civilians caught in the relentless shelling.
An intense morning barrage claimed her life as well as that of a French photographer.
In all, more than 70 people were killed nationwide as President Bashar Assad’s regime also escalated attacks on rebel bases elsewhere, with helicopter gunships strafing areas in the northwest, activists said.
Marie Colvin, who was working for Britain’s Sunday Times, and photojournalist Remi Ochlik were among a group of journalists who had sneaked into the country and were sharing accommodations with activists in the embattled city of Homs, raising speculation that Syrian forces targeted the makeshift media centre although opposition groups had previously described the shelling as indiscriminate.
The weeks of siege-style attacks on Homs, that have killed hundreds, has come to symbolise the desperation and defiance of the more than 11-month uprising against Assad’s rule. “I watched a little baby die today,” Colvin told the BBC yesterday from Homs.
“Absolutely horrific, a 2-year old child had been hit,” she said. “They stripped it and found the shrapnel had gone into the left chest and the doctor said, ‘I can’t do anything.’ His little tummy just kept heaving until he died.” The Syrian military appears to stepping up assaults to block the opposition for gaining further ground and political credibility with Western and Arab allies.
Today, helicopter gunships reportedly strafed mountain villages that shelter the rebel Free Syrian Army, and soldiers staged door-to-door raids in Damascus, among other attacks.