President Nicolas Sarkozy said the killing of the two journalists showed that it was time for President Bashar al-Assad's regime to go.

"/> President Nicolas Sarkozy said the killing of the two journalists showed that it was time for President Bashar al-Assad's regime to go.

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SYRIA

France condemns killing of journalists

President Nicolas Sarkozy said the killing of the two journalists showed that it was time for President Bashar al-Assad's regime to go.

Sarkozy said the incident showed “the importance of freedom of information”.

“This shows that enough is enough, this regime must go. There is no reason why Syrians should not have the right to live their lives, to freely choose their destiny,” Sarkozy said.

France identified the two Western reporters killed in Syria on Wednesday as veteran American war correspondent Marie Colvin of Britain’s Sunday Times and freelance French photojournalist Remi Ochlik.

Activists said they were killed and three others wounded when forces loyal to Assad’s regime shelled a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr district of Homs.

The French daily Le Figaro said one of its reporters, Edith Bouvier, had been among three journalists wounded in the same incident.

France on Wednesday demanded access to the victims of the attack and summoned Syria’s envoy to Paris.

“Following the information we have from Homs that a group of journalists were victims of shelling, I am asking the Syrian government to immediately stop attacks and respect its humanitarian obligations,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in a statement.

“I have asked our embassy in Damascus to require the Syrian authorities provide secure medical access to assist the victims with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Juppé said.

He said he had also “summoned the Syrian ambassador to Paris to express these requirements and to remind him of the intolerable nature of the Syrian government’s behaviour.”

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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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