Syrian troops had vowed to shoot to kill Western reporters when an American and French journalist were targeted yesterday, according to sources. Troops pledged to "kill any journalist who set foot on Syrian soil," the press was warned, reports the Telegraph. Marie Colvin, 56, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, 28, were killed by a rocket-propelled grenade as they fled a makeshift press center that had been hit with a missile. The two were "pursued as they tried to flee the bombardment," said French Culture Minister Fredric Mitterand. Even before the building was attacked, Lebanese intelligence picked up a conversation among Syrian army officers discussing how they would claim any dead journalists were killed in a crossfire with "terrorist" groups.
Shortly before the killings, reporters were warned to "leave the city urgently" because if the Syrian Army "finds you, they will kill you," said a writer for the Paris-based newspaper Liberation. He left the country with Colvin and other reporters, but Colvin returned. Colvin, a war correspondent for the Sunday Times of London, gave several interviews accusing Bashar al-Assad's regime of "murder." It's "a complete and utter lie that they are only targeting terrorists," she said. "The Syrian army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians." Syria's foreign ministry denied any involvement in the journalists' deaths, reports the Huffington Post, offering "condolences" but rejecting "statements holding Syria responsible for the deaths of journalists who sneaked into its territory at their own risk."