WAR REPORTER: The documentary Under the Wire provides a first-hand account of what really transpired during the early days of the war in Syria during the siege of Homs and the attack that killed war correspondent Marie Colvin.
Emma Bakkevik
Emma Bakkevik is a translator and freelance writer. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: October 20, 2018


In 2012 war correspondent Marie Colvin decided to sneak into Syria after her visa application to cover the conflict had been denied. In what would become her last assignment, she smuggled herself and her photographer Paul Conroy into Homs to report from the Syrian army’s siege. Through archive footage, reconstructed shots and talking heads interviews, the documentary Under the Wire, based on Conroy’s book, describes the days before and after the bomb attack that killed Colvin.

Colvin had courage like none other

During Dokufest in Kosovo, Modern Times Review sits down to talk with Conroy. He’s eager to share his story, especially if it helps keep Colvin’s memory alive. A former soldier himself, Conroy points out that Colvin had courage like none other. Together they went to places nobody else dared to enter. «In Tripoli we were with the rebels who stormed in and got the palace. We had been sleeping under a tree, to be sure to get the story. When we went to the hotel after nine days, we found the world press there, all scrubbed and washed. We were so dirty we couldn’t even get a room.»

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Conroy and Colvin, who were among the first international journalists in Homs, witnessed the early days of the conflict. Conroy has no doubt about the Syrian regime’s intentions. «There was no revolution or uprising, it was just people in the streets, protesting about the five kids who were executed because of  graffiti. I’m under no illusion; Assad was killing his own people.» He and Colvin found and interviewed one of the first soldiers to open fire on the crowd. «They were all conscripted soldiers, not professionals, and they had orders to open fire. Syrian secret police were behind them, killing the soldiers who tried to avoid shooting the protesters. That’s how they got them to attack.»

«Marie was dead, the rest of us were hurt, we couldn’t even run.» – Paul Conroy

With an improvised media centre as their base, Conroy and Colvin set out to cover how the siege of the city affected the civilians: widows hiding in a basement without seeing the sun since the conflict started; doctors who worked all hours in the makeshift medical clinic trying to save lives. But someone didn’t want this news to come out, and before long the media centre was under …


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