Photographer 'feared leaving Homs'

Photographer 'feared leaving Homs'

Flames rise from a house in Homs after shelling from the Syrian government (AP)

Syrians and Friends of Syria protest on Buchanan Street in Glasgow to raise awareness of the crisis in Homs

First published in National News © by

A wounded British photographer would not leave the besieged Syrian city of Homs with a humanitarian organisation for fear it was "not to be trusted", his wife said.

Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy was injured on Wednesday during the attack which killed war correspondent Marie Colvin but refused to leave the city with the Syrian Red Crescent.

His wife Kate Conroy told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme her husband had been advised the organisation was "not to be trusted". She said: "They refused to leave with them unless they had somebody from the British or French Embassy with them as an escort."

She spoke as the Government said "all the necessary work is being done" to secure the return of Mr Conroy and to repatriate Colvin's body.

She continued: "I can understand his rationale for it but having had various conversations with MPs, the Foreign Office and so on, I know they are not going to provide an Embassy official to go with them. Now he needs to realise that they have an international profile and that is sufficient protection in its own right to get them out safely."

The Syrian Red Crescent is working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to negotiate with the Syrian authorities about the retrieval of wounded and others trapped in the city.

On Friday, teams from the ICRC were deployed to Homs to evacuate seven wounded and 20 women and children. They have since been trying to re-enter the embattled neighbourhood of Baba Amr which has been devastated by a month of shelling by government forces.

Mrs Conroy, from Totnes, Devon, said she could "reluctantly appreciate" the position adopted by the Foreign Office.

She added: "I would like it if somebody in that embassy was to say 'forget the protocol, I'm going in and I'm going to help to get them out'. But I know that is not going to happen. I have asked and I've had quite a heated conversation with an MP and he's been absolute categoric with me that it's not going to happen."

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: "We are doing everything we possibly can. The Foreign Office have been seeking to negotiate with the Syrian authorities. Our ambassador in Damascus is engaged in trying to do just that. It is extremely difficult and the conversations are patchy."

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