Journalists a "target" in Syria, reporter says

Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin CBS/AP

"Shameless brutality" -- those are the words the United States chose Wednesday to describe Bashar al-Assad's all-out military assault on Syria's freedom movement.

The 40-year dictatorship of the Assad family seems bent on crushing the citizens' rebellion that began nearly a year ago.

On Wednesday, civilians in Homs -- a city of more than one and a half million -- suffered through their 19th day of artillery bombardment. An intense morning barrage killed 74, including a French photo journalist and an American reporter, Marie Colvin.

She was a veteran war correspondent, 56 years old, from Long Island, New York. She lost her left eye in an ambush in Sri Lanka in 2001.

"Being a war correspondent to me has never been, y'know 'Is that T-52 tank or a T-72 tank?' It's about people, what people are going through," Colvin said about her work.

Colvin was killed along with award-winning French photojournalist Remi Ochlik when rockets or mortars struck a building in Homs where reporters were working. Two other journalists, French and British, were wounded.

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On Tuesday night, Colvin told CNN by phone the bombardment of Homs was, in her word, "sickening."

"Every civilian house has been hit. We're talking a poor popular neighborhood. The top floor of the building I'm in has been hit, in fact, totally destroyed. There are no military targets here. It's a complete and utter lie they're only going after terrorists," Colvin said.

CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward has made her way into into Syria twice in recent weeks reporting on the rebels. Most recently she reported, with her producer Ben Plesser, on combat around the city of Idlib.

Ward reports that an international activism organization is saying that nine volunteers went into the city of Homs Wednesday carrying medical equipment, and that they went missing sometime in the late morning. Later on, the bodies of seven of them were found with their hands tied behind their backs and they were executed.

Ward said her experience was challenging and perilous.

"The dangers of reporting inside Syria and the difficulties are innumerable - from the logistics of having spotty telecommunications, to the very real fears of being in constant firefights and shelling, and knowing that you're there illegally, that the government doesn't want you to be there and that in fact by virtue of being there you are something of a target," Ward said.

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