Following the deaths of Marie Colvin and photojournalist Remi Ochlik, there are new troubling reports that Syrian forces targeted journalists and even thought up pre-planned excuses for their deaths. According to The Telegraph, intercepted discussions between Syrian army officers revealed that they had planned out to blame journalists' deaths on crossfire, and that they had pledged "to kill any journalist who set foot on Syrian soil."
It's troubling in hindsight, since there were already reports of journalists not being welcome in the country. In Colvin and Ochlik's case, they were both smuggled into the country, and according to various reports, journalists in Syria have been asked to report to the Syrian government if they are there illegally (where who knows what may happen). In an Associated Press report about Colvin's death, they mention that French TV reporter Gilles Jacquier was killed in an explosion on January 11, and that his "colleagues believe he was murdered in an elaborate trap set up by Syrian authorities — a claim that Assad's government has denied." The Telegraph adds that a fellow journalist who was in Homs with Colvin last week, says that they had been told the Syrian government was going to deliberately target their media center.
From the looks of it, it seems like the deaths of Colvin and Ochlik were part of an attempt by Syria to quash reporting about the violence. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Syrian state media reported that the Syrian Human Rights Network was surprised at “some countries’ attempts to turn public opinion against Syria” and stated that “when individuals enter a country illegally, then this country's authorities are not responsible for their safety and protection.”
Colvin's last reports were of the "merciless" and "sickening" violence by Syrian forces, and in her own words, it was "a complete and utter lie that they are only targeting terrorists… the Syrian army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.