A Frenchman and an American woman have been killed in the Syrian city of Homs as the clashes between the government forces and the rebels continue.
A spokeswoman from the French government identified the two journalists as French photographer Remy Ochlik and American Marie Colvin.
Ochlik was an award-winning photojournalist who began his career by covering riots in Haiti in 2004. He was recently working in Tunisia, Egypt in Libya.
Colvin was a war veteran journalist writing for The Sunday Times. She was a recognized journalist and received many professional awards including a Martha Gelhorn Prize in 2009 for distinguished work over many years.
Opposition activists claim that the two were killed when shells fired by government tanks hit the house they were staying in during an early morning assault on the neighborhood of Bab Amr.
Opposition forces also report nine other people dead in Homs on Wednesday as a result of the government crackdown on the city.
Meanwhile, Syrian authorities say they were not aware of the journalists’ presence in the country, Al Arabiya reports. Shortly after the incident the country’s information ministry urged all foreign journalists illegally inside the country to report to the government.
It is not the first case in which Syrian forces are accused of killing a Western journalist. In January, French cameraman Gilles Jacquier died after a shell exploded near a group of journalists in the city of Homs. The opposition immediately blamed government forces in the attack, but Syria’s president said the assault was carried out by “terrorists.”
Vijay Prashad, director of international studies at Trinity College in the US, says journalists are often targeted during military conflicts and accusations regarding their deaths have to be made cautiously.
“Of course, in the middle of a war it is ridiculous to immediately say whose weaponry killed somebody,” he said, “it is irresponsible to point fingers without forensic analysis.”
As tensions continue to mount in Syria there is a growing plea for humanitarian aid. UN general for humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos has called on both sides to allow aid groups access to the violence-torn areas.
The International Committee for the Red Cross has said that it is holding negotiations with representatives of the Syrian opposition in Geneva in an effort to call a daily two-hour ceasefire to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians.
Russia has voiced its support for the two-hour halt to the violence expressing concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said that Russia will use its contacts with both the government and the opposition to push for a humanitarian settlement. He also said Russian will send a special UN envoy to deliver aid to the country.