The employer of wounded French journalist Edith Bouvier said on Tuesday she was still in Syria, after President Nicolas Sarkozy retracted his confirmation that she had been evacuated to Lebanon.

"/> The employer of wounded French journalist Edith Bouvier said on Tuesday she was still in Syria, after President Nicolas Sarkozy retracted his confirmation that she had been evacuated to Lebanon.

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SYRIA

Journalist still in Syria says Le Figaro

The employer of wounded French journalist Edith Bouvier said on Tuesday she was still in Syria, after President Nicolas Sarkozy retracted his confirmation that she had been evacuated to Lebanon.

Journalist still in Syria says Le Figaro

Bouvier “is not in Lebanon but still in Syria,” a management source at Le Figaro newspaper told AFP. “It is wrong to say she is ‘safe and sound in Lebanon,'” the source said.

On its website, the newspaper also noted that “the French embassy in Beirut has indicated it is not able to confirm rumours about the journalist’s evacuation to Lebanon.”

Sarkozy meanwhile backtracked on an earlier confirmation that Bouvier had been evacuated, saying: “It is not confirmed that she is now safe in  Lebanon.”

“Communications are very difficult,” Sarkozy said, adding that the situation was “unclear” and “complicated”.

“I would not want to tell you incorrect things. We are working on the evacuation” of Bouvier, Sarkozy told journalists on the campaign trail.

“I cannot say anything, I am sorry, the situation is extremely complicated,” he said.

Sarkozy earlier had confirmed reports that Bouvier had arrived in Lebanon from the besieged Syrian city of Homs, saying he was “very happy” that “this nightmare has come to an end.”

A Lebanese official also told AFP earlier that Bouvier had arrived overnight in Lebanon from Homs, where she and British photographer Paul Conroy were injured in a rocket attack last week that killed two other Western reporters.

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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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