The Picture Show
5:40 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Struck In Syria, A Photographer's Insights

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 2:07 pm

It's been several weeks since the fatal shelling in Syria killed journalist Marie Colvin and her colleague Remi Ochlik. For photographer Paul Conroy, the wounds are still fresh.

He was there that day, too — at the rebel stronghold in Homs, which had been under daily bombardment by government forces. The journalists were under cover in a makeshift press center when it came under fire. Conroy recalls:

"I reached for my camera thinking the attack was over. As I bent down, there was an almighty explosion. I felt a huge blow to my leg where the shrapnel had gone through. And as I went looking for Marie, I fell, tripped on some rubble — and laying in the rubble of what had been formerly the entrance were the bodies of my colleagues. Marie was dead."

Conroy was smuggled out of Syria with the help of rebels, some of whom died in that journey. Since then, he has been recovering in a London hospital and this week, he moved into a London hotel.

Though he laments the loss of life, he emphasizes that isn't the point. "I would love dearly to have my friend and colleague back," he says, "but no, I have no regrets."

"The fact that we go in there ... to highlight the plight of these people — you know, then when one of us dies or is injured, the light is shone on us — it's not the reason I go in. It's not the reason anyone does this job."

He's alluding to the civilian death toll in Syria, which has been climbing as recently as Friday.

Conroy says he has stayed in touch with those who helped smuggle him out. "Last night I reestablished communication with the people who actually got me out of Bab Amr. We talked about the cease-fire," he says. "To them, it's a standing joke."

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