Relatives of slain war correspondent Marie Colvin sue Syrian regime

Syrians walk amid debris as they return to the Juret Al Shayah district of the central city of Homs

Relatives of slain war correspondent Marie Colvin sue Syrian regime

The papers state: 'Throughout February 2012, the Assad regime received tips from intelligence sources in Lebanon that Ms Colvin and other foreign journalists were travelling to Syria through Lebanon and reporting from the Baba Amr Media Centre.

Colvin, 56, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, 28, were killed instantly after a shell landed outside the front door as they reached the bottom step of stairs leading to the foyer while trying to flee.

Agents working for the government of President Bashar al-Assad deliberately went after journalists and media activists, according to the "wrongful death" claim filed on Saturday in Washington by the Center for Justice and Accountability. After an informant confirmed Colvin's presence at the site, Syrian artillery units "deliberately launched salvos of rockets and mortars directly at the improvised media center".

The number killed so far in the Syrian civil war, which has seen the regime of Bashar Assad brutally crush opposition, is hard to accurately estimate - thanks in part to the bloody suppression of reporting from inside the country.

Marie's photographer, Conroy, who was wounded in the attack, told the BBC shortly after the attack that the incoming rounds were "bracketed" on the media centre where Colvin and Ochlik were killed, meaning they were being deliberately targeted. Two other foreign journalists, including Times photographer Paul Conroy, were severely injured but later escaped.

"The thought that she was being watched the whole time, and she didn't know it, is chilling", said Cathleen Colvin, her sister and the lead plaintiff.

"The plan was formulated at the highest levels of the Syrian government", the claim said. She lost her left eye after being hit by shrapnel while covering the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2001.

The Syrians there were all wondering if this would be another Hama - the town destroyed by the old President Assad's artillery in 1982. Her family's lawyer, Scott Gilmore said: "Marie Colvin was killed for exposing the Assad regime's slaughter of innocent civilians to the world". "No armed rebels were present at or near the Media Center at the time of the attack".

They met activists, civilian journalists and bloggers reporting on the atrocities being carried out by government forces on a daily basis.

"We could destroy Baba Amr in 10 minutes, if there were no cameras", a regime official is supposed to have said, according to documents and witness statements obtained by the Colvin family's lawyers.

Before she died, Colvin had told the BBC that Assad's forces had been "shelling with impunity, with merciless disregard for civilians", and spoken with TV stations including Channel 4, BBC and CNN.

With her eye patch and gravelly voice Marie Colvin was, for decades, one of the world's most recognizable and respected foreign correspondents.

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