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The Mideast

Bodies of 2 foreign journalists killed in Syria arrive in Paris

obit_marie_colvin

March 11, 2008: Journalist Marie Colvin is seen in London. A French government spokeswoman on Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 identified two Western reporters killed in Syria as American war reporter Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik.AP2012

The bodies of American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, killed in the bombardment of a rebel flashpoint in Syria last week, were flown into Paris from Damascus on Sunday.

Relatives of Ochlik were there to meet his coffin as it touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport in the French capital, an airport source said.

Earlier, France's ambassador to Damascus, Eric Chevallier, confirmed the bodies were on their way to Paris.

The body of Colvin was expected to be flown on to her native United States on Monday or Tuesday, according to a representative of her newspaper, The (London) Sunday Times.

Colvin and her French colleague Ochlik were killed in a rocket attack in the rebel Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs on February 22.

Their bodies were earlier Saturday handed over to diplomats and taken to the French hospital in the Kassah neighborhood.

Chevallier boarded an ambulance that carried the body of Ochlik, while a Polish diplomat went in a separate car behind another ambulance that carried Colvin's body

The coffins were kept in the hospital's morgue while plans were finalized to fly them to Paris.

The bodies were formally identified in Damascus on Friday by French and Polish diplomats.

US interests in Syria are being looked after by the Poles.

The Sunday Times has said Colvin and Ochlik were killed when a rocket hit the front of the building they were in, burying them both in debris.

French reporter Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro newspaper and British photographer Paul Conroy were wounded in the same attack.

Bouvier, 31, and photographer William Daniels, 34, who was not hurt in the rocket attack, were smuggled out of Homs by activists earlier this week to Lebanon and then flown to France.

The pair recounted their harrowing experience from the moment Syrian rockets began hitting their makeshift media center, and said Syrian forces seemed to be directly targeting journalists in Homs.

"There were at least five successive explosions, very near. We really had the impression that we were directly targeted," the Figaro daily quoted one of them as saying.

"The Syrian activists who were with us were used to these bombardments and understood the danger immediately. They told us that we must leave right away."

Colvin and Ochlik were the first to leave. A missile struck in front of the press center.

"The explosion was massive, Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik were practically at the point of impact. They were killed on the spot," the Figaro reported.

The injured Bouvier couldn't move her leg. "I screamed" and Syrian insurgent fighters took the journalists to a field hospital in a nearby house.

The two French journalists were trapped for days, even after members of the rebel Free Syrian Army managed to get the wounded Conroy and Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa out of the country and into Lebanon.

The United States closed its embassy in Syria in early February and pulled out all its staff after two deadly bomb attacks in Damascus in December and January, and amid an intensification of the regime's crackdown on dissent.

France announced on Friday that it would close its mission.