Rosemarie Colvin, mother of journalist Marie Colvin who was killed...

Rosemarie Colvin, mother of journalist Marie Colvin who was killed in a shelling attack in Syria, speaks about her daughter at home in East Norwich. (Feb. 22, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

BEIRUT -- A prominent American war correspondent who grew up on Long Island and a French photojournalist were among dozens of people killed yesterday as Syrian forces intensely shelled the opposition stronghold of Homs.

French spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse identified the journalists as London's Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, 56, a native of East Norwich, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, 28. The two had traveled into Syria without official permission, The Washington Post reported. Syrian authorities keep tight control on the media.

At least two Western journalists were wounded in Wednesday's shelling, Syrian activists told The Associated Press. Hundreds of people have died in weeks of siege-style attacks on Homs amid the nearly year-old uprising against President Bashar Assad.

The latest deaths heightened attention on the meeting of the Friends of Syria group set for Friday in Tunisia. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is due to attend the emergency session, along with officials from more than 70 nations.

Some, such as the United States, would rather not see the conflict become more militarized, while Qatar has suggested arming the opposition. France floated the idea of establishing a humanitarian aid corridor, which some viewed as unworkable, Bloomberg News reported.

With Syria's large weapons stockpiles, and the potential for violence to keep getting worse and destabilize neighbors, the stakes are high for the meeting, analysts said.

"We don't want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. "But we don't rule out additional measures if the international community should wait too long and not take the kind of action that needs to be taken."

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