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MIDDLE EAST

France condemns Syrian ‘brutality’

France accused the Syrian regime of using heavy weapons against its own people Sunday and warned that its brutal crackdown on a political revolt threatens regional stability.

“France firmly condemns the increasingly brutal repression in Syria, including the use of heavy weapons, as in Jisr al-Shughur, from where many civilians are fleeing into Turkey,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“This unacceptable situation, which makes the toll of civilian victims in Syria still heavier, threatens regional stability. It should end,” it said.

“Syrian authorities should give the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies immediate access,” it added.

“France is continuing its efforts with its partners in the international community to encourage the United Nations Security Council to live up to its responsibilities by reacting without delay to the Syrian crisis and its regional implications.”

Earlier, Syrian state media had said the regime’s forces were battling what it described as “armed gangs” in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur.

Rights activists cited reports of heavy shelling and strikes by helicopter gunships.

SYRIA

French group to open two hotels in Damascus

France's Louvre Hotels Group has signed an agreement to open two hotels under its own name in Damascus, the first with a western hotel operator since Syria's brutal civil war began in 2011.

French group to open two hotels in Damascus
Louvre owns the Golden Tulip five-star brand. Photo: Louvre Hotels Group
The confirmation of the two hotels opening, after recent media reports, came a day after the UN announced an internal investigation into the bombing of hospitals in Syria, and as at least six civilians were killed by the Syrian regime and Russian fire in northwestern Idlib province in the past days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 
The region of around three million people, many of them displaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
   
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate controls most of Idlib as well as parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.
   
The hotels “will open soon under the brand name of Louvres Hotels Group,” the company, which is owned by China's Jin
Jiang, said in a statement.
 
Louvre Hotels Group said the deal was signed between Syria's Nazha Investment Group and “a partner with whom Louvre Hotels cooperates in the Middle East”.
   
The exact number of people killed in Syria's war is unknown but hundreds of thousands have died.
   
Several dozen medical facilities with links to the UN have been damaged or destroyed by bombs this year. Russian has denied deliberately targeting civilian installations.
   
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday said an internal inquiry would look into the bombing of hospitals in Syria which had previously flagged their coordinates to avoid air strikes.
   
“The deal is strictly in line with international law and all international directives regarding Syria,” the French company statement said.
   
According to the website, The Syria Report, it is the first agreement with a western hotel operator since 2011, when the devastating conflict began. Louvre Hotels Group was taken over by China's Jin Jiang in 2015 and it operates more than 1,500 hotels in 54 countries.
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