UK photographer escapes to Lebanon as Homs pounded


Wounded British photographer Paul Conroy has been smuggled into Lebanon from the Syrian rebel city of Homs, which on Tuesday was shelled by regime forces for a 25th day, his father and activists said. News of Conroy’s dramatic escape came as UN rights chief Navi Pillay called in Geneva for an immediate ceasefire to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to violence-torn regions of Syria. “We’ve just had word from Beirut,” Conroy’s father Les told British media. The freelance photographer was working for Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper when a makeshift media centre in Homs was shelled on February 22 by Syrian forces, killing veteran US reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik and wounding Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier. France said it could not confirm reports that Bouvier had been evacuated from Syria but that it remained mobilised to do everything possible to secure her rescue.
“We do not at this stage have elements that permit us to confirm what some media have reported concerning Edith Bouvier,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. “We are more mobilised than ever to do everything possible to allow for the evacuation of the wounded, of all foreign journalists and our wounded compatriot, from Homs,” he added.
Conroy, 47, issued a video appeal for help last week, saying he was injured and being looked after by rebels of the Free Syrian Army. A Lebanese activist said Conroy had been smuggled during the night from 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 people out of Syria. The northern region of Wadi Khaled borders Syria and is close to the province of Homs, of which Homs city is the capital.