Red Crescent and Red Cross medics at a hospital in the Syrian city of Homs on February 24
An image grab taken off Syrian TV shows Red Crescent and Red Cross medics at a hospital in the Syrian city of Homs on February 24. Red Cross and Red Crescent rescuers left the Syrian rebel city of Homs on Tuesday after talks to evacuate trapped Western journalists foundered, according to a spokesman for the two aid groups. © - AFP/Syrian TV
Red Crescent and Red Cross medics at a hospital in the Syrian city of Homs on February 24
<
>
AFP
Last updated: February 28, 2012

Red Cross quit Homs as evacuation talks fail

Red Cross and Red Crescent rescuers left the Syrian rebel city of Homs on Tuesday after talks to evacuate trapped Western journalists foundered, spokesman for the two aid groups said.

"Our team returned to Damascus at around 2:30 pm (1230 GMT) after negotiations yesterday and today with a sheikh (religious official) who was serving as an intermediary," to evacuate the journalists, Abdel Rahman Attar told AFP.

"He asked for food and medical supplies for the residents of Baba Amr and our team accepted. We asked in return to meet the journalists, but he refused," Attar added.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus said its delegates had left Homs for the same reasons.

"The ICRC team has returned. The negotiations have been halted and the situation is very tense in Baba Amr," the rebel stronghold of Homs where journalists are believed trapped, said ICRC spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh.

There are three Western reporters trapped in Baba Amr, a rebel stronghold of Homs, where a rocket attack last week on a makeshift media centre also killed two other journalists.

Attar confirmed that British photographer Paul Conroy was successfully smuggled out of Homs across the border with Lebanon, where the international NGO Avaaz earlier said he was "safe."

But Attar said "this is not the case for Edith Bouvier" -- a French journalist from the daily Le Figaro who was wounded last week in a rocket attack on a makeshift media centre in the Homs rebel stronghold of Baba Amr.

Conroy was also wounded in that attack which killed veteran US reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik.

Two other journalists trapped in Homs are William Daniels, a photographer who also was on assignment for Le Figaro, and Spaniard Javier Espinosa who works for the Spanish daily El Mundo.

"It's a real shame but I have the impression that those inside Baba Amr are not being very clear with us," he said in apparent reference to the people his team were negotiating with .

Conroy was safely smuggled across the border to Lebanon from Homs earlier.

"The Sunday Times can confirm that the photographer Paul Conroy is safe and in Lebanon. He is in good shape and good spirits," a spokeswoman for the newspaper said in London.

Wissam Tarif of the international activist organisation Avaaz said it coordinated his rescue from the battered city of Homs in central Syria and across the border into Lebanon.

"Avaaz coordinated with Syrian activists Conroy's exit from Homs and his arrival in Lebanon," Tarif told AFP in Beirut:

Conroy's father also told British media that his son escaped to Lebanon. "We've just had word from Beirut," Les Conroy said.

blog comments powered by Disqus