Foreign minister Alain Juppé pressed Syrian authorities on Tuesday to shed light on the death of French television reporter Gilles Jacquier, who was killed as he covered the country's 10-month-old uprising.

"/> Foreign minister Alain Juppé pressed Syrian authorities on Tuesday to shed light on the death of French television reporter Gilles Jacquier, who was killed as he covered the country's 10-month-old uprising.

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SYRIA

France seeks answers on journalist death

Foreign minister Alain Juppé pressed Syrian authorities on Tuesday to shed light on the death of French television reporter Gilles Jacquier, who was killed as he covered the country's 10-month-old uprising.

France seeks answers on journalist death
Alain Juppé by MEDEF

Juppé was visiting the United Nations in a push for a resolution on Syria’s bloodshed, said that a report by Arab League monitors was not definitive on the origin of the fire that killed 43-year-old journalist.

“We’ve asked the Syrian authorities for a transparent investigation and as of now we don’t have the results of this investigation,” Juppé told reporters.

In a speech earlier before the Security Council, Juppé said: “It was up to the Syrian authorities to give him all necessary protection. I understand that that wasn’t the case.”

The Arab monitoring mission said that Jacquier could have been killed by opposition fire “but the Arab League hasn’t endorsed this theory and we’re still waiting for the Syrian authorities to shed light on the incident,” Juppé said.

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, in a speech before the Security Council flatly blamed the opposition for Jacquier’s death as he questioned why France was pressing against President Bashar al-Assad.

France has joined Arab states, Britain and the United States in seeking a UN resolution that would call on Assad to end violence and hand over power ahead of talks on a political settlement.

Jacquier was the first Western journalist to die covering Syria’s uprising, which human rights groups say has killed more than 5,400 people over 10 months.

An AFP photographer said Jacquier was killed on January 11 when a shell exploded among some 15 journalists covering demonstrations in Homs. Eight Syrians were killed, said Syrian news agency SANA, and several other people were wounded.

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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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