Feb. 29 - Mourners pray for killed Syrian rebels as government reiterates commitment to evacuate foreign journalists. Nick Rowlands reports.
WARNING - EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES Mourners in the northeastern Syrian province of Idlib pray behind the coffins of two rebels killed in fighting on Tuesday. A large funeral procession for one of the Free Syrian Army fighters was held in the village, before the coffin was transported to the city of Aleppo, around 70 kilometres away. Meanwhile, opposition sources say Syrian troops have launched a ground attack on Homs in an attempt to overrun the rebel-held Baba Amro neighbourhood. Homs has endured 25 days of siege and fierce bombardment. On Tuesday, trapped British journalist Paul Conroy escaped to safety in Lebanon, though a number of his rescuers were killed in the process, and several Western journalists remain stranded in Baba Amro. Speaking from Damascus, a Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed the government was committed to helping the remaining journalists. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, JIHAD MAKDISSI, SAYING: "Those who are still in Syria, we are committed on humanitarian grounds to facilitate the mission of their evacuation. The suspension is not from the Syrian side. That is what I can tell you in this phase and I assure you that. Exiting in such a way -- sneaking -- reinforces our doubts about their mission's nature in Syria." He also claimed the Syrian government was not responsible for the delay in repatriating the bodies of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, killed in Homs last week. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, JIHAD MAKDISSI, SAYING: "The attempts failed because the armed groups refused to hand over the bodies or release the journalists giving different excuses." But activists Syrian troops are attacking Homs and numerous towns around the country. The United Nations says President Bashar al-Assad's forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians since the uprising began last March. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.