BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian forces reportedly targeted the Western journalists who were killed Wednesday after a shell hit a makeshift media center where they were staying in the Baba Amr neighborhood of the embattled city of Homs, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Citing intercepted communication between Syrian Army officers, the Telegraph reported that Syrian authorities had issued direct orders to target the media center.
"If journalists were successfully killed, then the Syrians were told to make out that they had died accidentally in firefights with terrorist groups, the radio traffic revealed," the Telegraph stated.
Veteran foreign correspondent Marie Colvin, who was in Syria for The Sunday Times, and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer, were killed Wednesday in the attack. Another journalist, French freelancer Edith Bouvier, was badly injured in the attack and remains in critical condition.
The Telegraph also reported that Britain has summoned its Syrian ambassador, Sami Khiyami, to the Foreign Officer to formally protest the attack on the journalists and death of Colvin.
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The Syrian government said Wednesday that it did not know journalists were in the house, and it requested that all foreign journalists register themselves with the authorities.
"The ministry asks all foreign journalists that have entered Syria illegally to go to the nearest centre for immigration and passports to resolve the situation according to the laws in force," the ministry said in a statement on Syria TV, as reported by CBS News.
Colvin and Ochlik were two of very few Western journalists still operating in Homs. Reuters said Colvin’s media center was hit by a shell and then she and Ochlik were struck by a rocket when they tried to escape.
Colvin’s last story was published on Feb. 20 from the “widow’s basement,” a makeshift bomb shelter. Her story states:
"Among the 300 huddling in this wood factory cellar in the besieged district of Baba Amr is 20-year-old Noor, who lost her husband and her home to the shells and rockets. 'Our house was hit by a rocket so 17 of us were staying in one room,' she recalls as Mimi, her three-year-old daughter, and Mohamed, her five-year-old son, cling to her abaya. 'We had had nothing but sugar and water for two days and my husband went to try to find food.' It was the last time she saw Maziad, 30, who had worked in a mobile phone repair shop. 'He was torn to pieces by a mortar shell.'"
Colvin reported that Fatima, a woman who had lost her family in the shelling and given birth to a child in the cellar, was too traumatized to breastfeed. "[T]he baby has been fed only sugar and water; there is no formula milk," Colvin wrote.
Hours before being killed, Colvin wrote in a closed Facebook group for war correspondents:
"Iin [sic] Baba Amr. Sickening, cannot understand how the world can stand by and I should be hardened by now. Watched a baby die today. Shrapnel, doctors could do nothing. His little tummy just heaved and heaved until he stopped. Feeling helpless. As well as cold! Will keep trying to get out the information."
Below is one of Colvin’s last reports from Homs, which ran on Anderson Cooper 360 on Tuesday night.