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U.S./World

Rebel city seized back by Syrians

| Friday, March 2, 2012

BEIRUT -- Syrian forces overran a longtime rebel enclave in the battleground city of Homs, the government said Thursday, as the United Nations Security Council called on Syrian authorities to allow "immediate" humanitarian assistance to conflict-ridden areas of the country.

The occupation of Homs' Baba Amr neighborhood -- which became an international symbol of resistance -- is an important victory for the Syrian military, though rebels continue to battle government forces in other parts of Homs and elsewhere in the country.

The Security Council statement deploring "the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation" in parts of Syria was especially significant because it was agreed to by superpowers Russia and China, which had jointly vetoed earlier draft U.N. resolutions condemning the Bashar Assad government.

Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy reported that a pair of French journalists who had been trapped in Homs had escaped to neighboring Lebanon.

"I had her on the phone," Sarkozy told reporters during a summit in Brussels, referring to Edith Bouvier, a French reporter for Le Figaro newspaper who had been stranded in Homs as the city was being shelled. "She has suffered a lot."

Escaping to Lebanon with Bouvier was another French journalist, William Daniels, who was also trapped in Homs.

Bouvier suffered a fractured leg in a Feb. 22 shelling attack on a makeshift media center in the Baba Amr neighborhood. Activists said she had to be evacuated on a stretcher.

That bombardment killed two other Western journalists, Marie Colvin, a U.S.-born correspondent for the Sunday Times of London, and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer.

The apparently successful evacuation of the two French journalists means that all four surviving Western journalists remaining in Homs after the bombing of the media center have been successfully spirited out of the country. Earlier this week, Paul Conroy, a British photographer, and Javier Espinoza, a Spanish photographer, were reported to have entered Lebanon.

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