Lebanese activist confirms injured photographer escapes from Homs

AFP , Tuesday 28 Feb 2012

activist confirms that Paul Conroy was smuggled from bombarded Syrian city while there are conflicting reports about injured French journalist Edith Bouvier

A Lebanese activist on Tuesday confirmed that British photographer Paul Conroy was smuggled at night from the battered Syrian city of Homs to Lebanon through an illegal crossing.

"Conroy and people accompanying him entered the Wadi Khaled region through the Hnayder border village after midnight on motorbikes," said the activist in northern Lebanon who helps smuggle wounded out of Syria.

The northern region of Wadi Khaled borders Syria and is close to the flashpoint province of Homs where Conroy was wounded in the bombardment of the city of Homs last week. Conroy's father earlier told British media that his son had escaped to Lebanon. "We've just had word from Beirut," Les Conroy said.

But the whereabouts of French journalist Edith Bouvier, who was also wounded in last Wednesday's bombardment of the city Homs where two other Western journalists were killed, remained unclear.

The French embassy in Beirut said it could not confirm the numerous media reports and tweets that Bouvier, too, had been evacuated to Lebanon. "The embassy... cannot confirm the report concerning the evacuation of Edith Bouvier," a spokesman said.

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch who is involved in the rescue efforts, flatly denied the reports. "Reports that Edith Bouvier has made it out of Homs and is in Lebanon are FALSE," he tweeted.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian chapter of the Red Crescent have tried since Friday to rescue Conroy and Bouvier from the battered Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr. But their efforts to evacuate them along with the bodies of veteran US reporter Marie Colvin, and French photographer Remi Ochlik killed in bombardment of Bab Amr on February 22 have so far failed.

Attempts by the Red Crescent and Red Cross to reach the pair on Monday failed, Red Crescent chief Abdel Rahman Attar said. He said his team was told by an intermediary in Baba Amr that Bouvier refused to leave if the conditions she insisted on were not met.

Activists of the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page said that Baba Amr was "bombarded for the 25th straight day by regime forces" on Tuesday.

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