Fotograaf William Daniels overleefde de aanval in Homs, dit is zijn verhaal

French journalist Edith Bouvier and photographer William Daniels lands at the military aiport of Villacoublay outside Paris on March 2, 2012. Bouvier, 31, and Daniels, 34, escaped to Lebanon after being trapped for days under bombardment in the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs. Le Figaro newspaper reporter Bouvier has multiple fractures from a February 22 rocket attack on a rebel makeshift media centre in Baba Amr in Homs in which US veteran reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed. Another journalist wounded in the attack, British photographer Paul Conroy, was evacuated to Lebanon on February 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON De Franse fotograaf William Daniels bij aankomst bij het militaire vliegveld Villacoublay net buiten Parijs op 2 maart 2012. Foto AFP / Thomas Samson

De Franse fotograaf William Daniels overleefde in Homs de aanval op het perscentrum in de wijk Baba Amr. Zijn collega-journalisten Marie Colvin en Remi Ochlik niet. Tegenover Time Magazine doet hij zijn verhaal.

Daniels was samen met de Franse journalist Edith Bouvier, Ochlik, Colvin, de Britse fotograaf Paul Conroy en de Spaanse journalist Javier Espinosa Syrië en Homs ingesmokkeld door activisten. Vanuit het geïmproviseerde perscentrum in Baba Amr deden ze verslag van de “slachting” die plaatsvond in de belegerde stad.

Op de vroege ochtend van 22 februari kwam de mortieraanval die Ochlik en Colvin doodde. Zij renden naar buiten en werden voor het gebouw dodelijk getroffen. Daniels en de anderen zochten dekking tegen de muren, wat hen het leven redde.

At that instant, a rocket exploded at the front of the building, killing Colvin and Ochlik instantly. The space was filled with dust. In the chaos, Daniels heard Bouvier scream, “William, William! I can’t move!” Her left leg was crooked. He pulled her out by the shoulders. She was bleeding heavily. Carrying his colleague, Daniels staggered to the doorway. As he glanced down, he saw his friend Ochlik, just 28, lifeless on the floor. “Edith,” he gasped to Bouvier, “Rémi is not with us anymore.”

Daniels in Homs na de aanval op het mediacentrum. Daniels in Homs na de aanval op het mediacentrum.

Nadat Syrische activisten hen ontzetten uit het gebouw, kregen de gewonde journalisten medische hulp van het Vrije Syrische Leger. Maar die hadden niet de benodigde middelen om de gebroken heup van Bouvier te behandelen. Op 23 februari deden de overlevenden van de mortieraanval op het perscentrum daarom een smeekbede aan de internationale gemeenschap om hen te evacueren en te berichten over het geweld in Homs.

There was no easy way to get out of there. And living conditions were growing worse. The Syrian Army had bombed rooftop water tanks, so the taps ran dry after a few days. The only light was from candles and a gas lamp. Locals supplied blankets an oil heater for the bitter cold. Food was running low; one day, all they ate was a bowl of rice. The residents of Bab Amr were heartbreakingly kind, plying the journalists with candies and cigarettes, even hunting down imported Winstons for their guests. When a two-hour truce on Feb. 24 allowed Daniels and Espinosa a chance to retrieve a few possessions from their first bombed-out hideout, Daniels grabbed the energy bars from his dead friend Rémi Ochlik’s bag. Then he picked up Ochlik’s wallet, computer, passport and bomb-blasted camera, which “looked like a cauliflower,” Daniels says. “Javier and I worried maybe it would upset his family too much. But I knew I had to bring things of Rémi’s for them and his girlfriend.”

Lees hier het hele relaas van Daniels in Time Magazine.

Ook Conroy en Espinosa deden al eerder hun verhaal.