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Syria's not responsible for those who enter illegally, group says

February 22, 2012 |  4:34 pm

Syrian government loyalists say the President Bashar Assad regime is not responsible for the welfare of journalists reporting from the embattled city of Homs without government permission.

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.”

The same group has argued in the past that some countries in the United Nations are trying to stir up public opinion against Syria to aid armed terrorists, according to state media. The United Nations recently voted to condemn human rights abuses in the country under Assad. 

Syrian officials are also urging foreign journalists who are illegally inside the country to report to immigration centers, Reuters reported. They say the Syrian government was unaware that reporter Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik, who both died Wednesday, had entered the country.

Colvin, 56, and Ochlik, 28, were killed Wednesday by a rocket as they tried to escape from a house that was being shelled. A French journalist, Jean-Pierre Perrin, told the British newspaper The Telegraph that he and Colvin had been advised a few days ago that the Syrian government would target them.

"The Syrian Army issued orders to 'kill any journalist that set foot on Syrian soil,' " Perrin said.

One day earlier, shrapnel wounds killed an intrepid "citizen journalist," said Rami Ahmad Sayed, who documented a neighborhood under siege in Homs through graphic and unsettling videos. The government often dismisses the amateur videos uploaded from the central Syrian city as staged.

The Syrian government has severely restricted media access to the country, grappling with a nearly yearlong uprising against Assad. Insistent on telling the story, many journalists have gotten into Homs and other bloodied regions anyway, sometimes with the help of opposition activists.

Seven media workers have been killed in Syria as a result of their work since the uprising began, according to the media freedom group Reporters Without Borders.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Video: Two Western journalists were killed in Syria on Wednesday. Credit: Associated Press

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