Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin one of two Western reporters killed in Homs, Syria on Wednesday
Colvin gave one of her last interviews to CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night
Journalist told of watching, helpless, as baby hit by shrapnel in poorly-equipped makeshift medical center died
Colvin: 'The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians'
Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin was one of two Western reporters killed in Homs, Syria on Wednesday. Just hours earlier, she had given one of her final interviews to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. In it she spoke of her anger and fear when faced with the shelling of civilians in the city, and her heartbreak at watching a baby hit by shrapnel die in a poorly-equipped makeshift medical center.
Anderson Cooper: A reporter was in the room when the child died: Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times of London, who joins us now from Homs. Marie, to be in that room with this young baby passing, we’ve seen many children killed in this conflict, but to be there, what was that like?
Marie Colvin: It’s a very chaotic room. But the baby’s death was just heartbreaking, possibly because he was so quiet. One of the first shocks, of course, was that the grandmother had been helping – completely coincidentally – helping in the emergency room, and just started shouting, ‘That’s my grandson, where did you find him?’ And then the doctor said there’s nothing we can do. We just watched this little boy, his little tummy heaving and heaving as he tried to breathe. It was horrific. My heart broke.
Anderson Cooper: Do we know how the child died? How he was wounded?
Marie Colvin: We know there’s been constant shelling in the city, so I have to say, it’s just one of many stories. His house was hit by a shell. He – another member of his family – it’s chaos here, but another member of his family arrived later, but after he had died, and said the house had been – the second floor – had been hit. This little boy, obviously it was just one piece of shrapnel that caught him right in the chest.
Anderson Cooper: There are some who will see those images and say we shouldn’t show those images, that it’s too much. We discuss this all the time. Why is it important, do you think, to see these images? Why is it important for you to be there? Right now you may be one of the only Western journalists in Homs – our team has just left.
Marie Colvin: I had a discussion with your people, Anderson. I feel very strongly that they should be shown. Something like that, I think, is actually stronger for an audience, for someone who is not here, for an audience for which the conflict, any conflict, is very far away. That’s the reality. These are 28,000 civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless. That little baby was one of two children who died today, one of children being injured every day. That baby probably will move more people to think, ‘What is going on, and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening everyday?’
Anderson Cooper: The regime in Syria claims they’re not hitting civilians, that there is no armed conflict, that there is no war inside Syria, that they are basically just going after terrorist gangs.
Marie Colvin: Every civilian house on this street has been hit. We’re talking about a very 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. There is the Free Syrian Army: Heavily outnumbered and out-gunned – they have only Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. But they don’t have a base. There are more young men being killed, we see a lot of teen-aged young men, but they are going out to just try to get the wounded to some kind of medical treatment. So it’s a complete and utter lie that they’re only going after terrorists. There are rockets, shells, tank shells, anti-aircraft being fired in parallel lines into the city. The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.
Anderson Cooper: Thank you for using the word “lie.” I think a lot of people will want to thank you, because it’s a word we don’t often hear, it’s not often used, but it’s the truth in this case. The Syrian regime and their representatives have continually lied, and they have lied on this program to us directly. Marie, you have covered a lot of conflicts, over a long time. How does this compare?
Marie Colvin: This is the worst, Anderson, for many reasons. I think the last time we talked was when I was in Misrata. It’s partly personal safety, I guess. There’s nowhere to run: The Syrian army is holding the perimeter. And there’s just far more ordinance being poured into this city and no way of predicting where it’s going to land. Plus, there’s a lot of snipers on the high buildings surrounding the Baba Amr neighborhood. You can sort of figure out where a sniper is, but you can’t figure out where a shell is going to land. And just the terror of the people, and the helplessness of these families hiding on the first floor. All they can do is hope it doesn’t hit them. That’s very, very difficult to watch.
Anderson Cooper: And in terms of supplies, medicine, food?
Marie Colvin: Running low. Medicine, there is essentially almost none. The only painkillers at the hospital are paracetamol and ibuprofen, you know just the normal kind of painkillers we would use for a cold or something or a headache. There’s operations going on with just that as an anesthetic because the hospitals here, anyone who is shot or has a shrapnel wound is arrested or disappeared, so there’s fears they’re being killed. Anyone badly wounded is smuggled across to Lebanon. They don’t even have rubber gloves. The rubber gloves that the doctors – well there aren’t doctors – that the medical staff is wearing, the rubber gloves are ripped. There’s one doctor, one dentist and a vet treating the wounded. That’s the kind of medical care there is.
Anderson Cooper: Marie Colvin, I know it’s impossible to stay safe but please try. Thank you for talking to us.
Marie Colvin: Thanks very much, Anderson.