BEIRUT (AP) — Two Western journalists killed in the central Syrian city of Homs last week were buried in a cemetery in the embattled neighborhood where they died, according to activist videos posted online Thursday.
In the videos, one for each journalist, a man says he is in a cemetery in the neighborhood of Baba Amr, where American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in a rocket attack on a makeshift media center.
The man, who frequently appears in videos from the neighborhood and says he is Dr. Mohammed Ahmed al-Mohammed, says activists decided to bury the reporters on Feb. 27 because the neighborhood lacked electricity to keep the bodies refrigerated, and they had started to decay.
Al-Mohammed praises the work of the journalists, who sneaked into Syria illegally to report on the uprising against President Bashar Assad.
"Marie Colvin was martyred in Baba Amr because she was sending a heavenly message, a humanitarian message," he says in one video, appearing to be on the verge of tears. "She was telling the truth about what is happening in Baba Amr. May God be merciful to you, Marie, as we bury you in this garden."
In the other, he says Ochlik was "doing his humanitarian duty, and doing his duty as completely as possible to send the true picture of what is going on in Baba Amr during the most terrible time."
The videos could not be independently verified.
The Baba Amr section of Homs has been the target of the heaviest Syrian military shelling during a four-week siege rebel-held parts of the city. Rebel forces said Thursday they were pulling out of the neighborhood, and a Syrian government official said the army had moved in. Activists say hundreds have been killed in Homs.
In Colvin's video, the camera shows a body wrapped in white cloth at al-Mohammed's feet with a white paper attached to it reading "Marie Colvin" in English. He opens the fabric to reveal the badly burned face of a white person. It cannot be recognized as Colvin.
"May God be merciful to her," the man says as dirt falls on the body. "May God be with us."
He does the same in Ochlik's video, revealing a face that looks like Ochlik's with red wounds around the mouth and nose.
The two were killed on Feb. 22 in a government rocket attack that also wounded British photographer Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said late Thursday that Bouvier and William Daniels, who was also in the neighborhood but not wounded, made it safely into Lebanon after being stuck in Baba Amr.
Activists smuggled Conroy and another uninjured reporter, Javier Espinosa of Spain, into Lebanon this week. Thirteen Syrian activists were killed getting the two men out, according to the activist group Avaaz.
The U.N. says more than 7,500 people have been killed since the anti-Assad uprising started in March, 2011. Activists say more than 8,000 have been killed.