Reporter’s Family Claims |Assad Ordered Her Killed

     (CN) — The Syrian government ordered the targeted killing of acclaimed reporter Marie Colvin after she wrote a scathing account of the siege of Homs accusing the government of war crimes, Colvin’s family claims in court.
     Marie Colvin, an acclaimed war correspondent, was killed in Homs, Syria on February 22, 2012, in a government rocket attack on a makeshift broadcast studio in the Baba Amr neighborhood where Colvin and other journalists were reporting on the government’s siege of the city.
     Colvin wrote for the British paper The Sunday Times, and had previously covered the wars in Chechnya, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Libya. Her reporting was credited with averting a massacre of refugees in East Timor, and she was blinded in one eye by a grenade in Sri Lanka.
     “The rocket attack was the object of a conspiracy formed by senior members of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surveil, target, and ultimately kill civilian journalists in order to silence local and international media as part of its effort to crush political opposition,” according to the July 9 complaint filed by Colvin’s mother Cathleen and niece Justine in Washington.
     Baba Amr was the center of a movement by Syrian civilians to report on atrocities committed by the Syrian government against its own people using social media and by sharing amateur videos on YouTube, the complaint claims. No one present at the media center was a member of the rebel forces, survivors of the attack say.
     The Assad regime received a tip that Colvin and other foreign journalists were traveling to Syria through Lebanon. Colvin first went to Homs on February 15, 2016, where she spent two days, then escaped to Lebanon, where she wrote a scathing account of the siege, accusing the Assad regime of murdering civilians.
     She then decided to return to Homs, but the Syrian regime tracked the journalists’ movement and communications to locate the Baba Amr center, which operated in a secret location, with the intention of destroying it.
     “This plan was formulated at the highest levels of the Syrian government by members of the Central Crisis Management Cell, a special war cabinet created by President Bashar al-Assad to oversee the crackdown on the democratic opposition,” the complaint says.
     Hours before she was murdered, Marie Colvin spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, telling him, “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.”
     The following morning, the Syrian army launched rockets that struck to either side of the media center. As Colvin and others scrambled to evacuate the house, a rocket slammed into the ground right outside the front door, killing Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, and wounding numerous others. The Syrian artillery then adjusted their targets to fire shells into the street, intending to kill survivors running from the broadcast center.
     “The February 22, 2012, assault on the Media Center was part of the Assad regime’s conspiracy to silence the media and terrorize civilians. The Assad regime targeted Marie Colvin and the other journalists in the Media Center with full knowledge that the victims were innocent civilians who did not participate in or contribute to hostilities,” the complaint claims.
     Marie’s mother seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, and emotional distress.
     She is represented by Scott Gilmore with the Center for Justice & Accountability.

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