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SYRIA

France demands urgent Syria meeting at UN

France, which is taking over the UN Security Council's rotating presidency in August, will call an emergency ministerial meeting on Syria, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday.

Fabius told French radio station RTL he would chair the meeting himself and that it had to be held urgently to stop President Bashar Al-Assad's regime carrying out further massacres in Syria.

"Since France is taking the presidency of the UN Security Council on August 1, we will make a request before the end of this week for a Security Council meeting, probably on the ministerial level to try to stop the massacres and to prepare a political transition," Fabius said.

"We must try everything" even though Russia and China have blocked resolutions on Syria on three occasions, the foreign minister said.

"We cannot say that it is a domestic matter," he added, warning that the conflict could spread into neighbouring countries.

Fabius also expressed fears of a massacre in Syria's most populous city Aleppo, where the government has launched a fierce offensive against rebels
since Saturday.   

"The Syrian people are being martyred and the executioner is called Bashar Al-Assad," Fabius said.

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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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