Thu Jan 12, 2012
Press TV has interviewed freelance journalist Lizzie Phelan to get an update on the situation. What follows is a transcript of the interview:
Press TV: Lizzie tell us what you saw happened?
Phelan: Yes, well actually I was meant to be on the delegation of journalists travelling to Homs myself, I must say this is pure coincidence that I am here speaking to you right now.
So the delegation of journalists came under fire by a shell and a French journalist along with another Belgian journalist that stepped out of the car to see- to take footage of the wreckage and at that moment they were then hit by another shell, this is according to firsthand accounts of what happened.
And the second attack killed the French journalist [Jill Jackie] and it seriously wounded another Belgian journalist, who is now reported to be in the hospital in Homs and eight other civilians are also reported to have been killed and approximately further eleven people wounded.
Now this has been received by the Syrian authorities here who gave permission to the journalists to make their visits to Homs as an attempt by armed groups in the country to sabotage the- as your reports showed- perhaps hundreds of thousands of people came out to rally in support of the government.
And indeed the president came out and spoke about the importance of the people at the same time taking part in the reform process that is also combating terrorism.
So it has been seen very much as an attempt by these armed opposition individuals inside the country to portray a scene of a chaos to the outside world. Because as we know, since NATO and the West lost their votes in the United Nations, because of the VETO of Russia and China.
It appears that there has been a different tact employed by the West and we have of course had reports that they have been supporting armed opposition groups with the help of countries like Qatar and Turkey.
Indeed just a few days ago, there was a report on the British Special Forces website, saying that they believed that British Special Forces were giving logistics and financial and training support to armed opposition groups inside Syria by training them in places like Libya, for example.
So, really this is very worrying to see journalists who are coming to try to report freely, and they obviously cannot do so without safety being guaranteed because of these armed groups inside the country.
Press TV: There is an interesting poll that was made, Lizzie Phelan, making a comparison between the support for president Bashar al-Assad before the unrest began and then one after.
And this is done by Qatar foundation along with YouGov which at this point says that the support for President Assad has actually grown, ever since news surfaced and confirmed in many respects but mostly, of course the government being vocal that armed terrorists and gangs are responsible for what has occurred and now the support for Assad to have grown.
Is that how you see it? Is that a confirmation of how you have witnessed the Syrians and of course the support for the government there, and of course your views and reflections on this recent poll?
Phelan: Yes, well I have been here in Syria for a few days now and over the past couple of days, of course Assad made another speech yesterday at the university and today again.
I was at the demonstration today where he unexpectedly made a surprise speech and came and joined the people, where he said that he wants very much to be amongst the people, and I witnessed there an outpouring of support for the president.
And of course the United Nations has said that 5000 people have been killed during this conflict, but they have been unable to confirm those reports and of course we know that there has been evidence of very high number of people from the security forces and the military who have also been killed.
And in fact since I have been here I have spoken to a number of people from different areas like, Idlib and Homs and Hama and other areas, who say that, far from them being in favor of the, army that because of the threats of these armed groups, they actually would prefer to see a greater army and security presence, in order to restore the stability to such areas.