SHARE
COPY LINK

SYRIA

French Navy ‘sends warship towards Syria’

An anti-aircraft frigate from the French Navy was dispatched in the direction of Syria on Thursday morning according to reports as the West appears to be preparing for a military strike against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

French Navy 'sends warship towards Syria'
File photo: A war ship in the French navy. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

The frigate Chevalier Paul left the port of Toulon in the south of France bound for Syria on Thursday, according to the French online news site Le Point.

The decision to dispatch the anti-aircraft vessel, comes just a day after it was announced that the French Parliament would hold an emergency session on Syria in response to the deadly chemical weapons attack, the West believes was carried out by Bashar al-Assad.

It is the latest move that suggests France is gearing up to intervene militarily in the war-torn country.

The anti-aircraft warship, believed to be the most modern in the French Navy fleet, could be used to protect allied bombers in the case the US, UK and France – the three countries pushing for military intervention – decide to launch air strikes against Assad.

Plans difficult to develop

French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said on Thursday that Western plans for retaliatory action against Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack are "difficult to develop".

"The international community must find a riposte that is adapted to the situation,"  said on France 2 television.

She said it was "necessary to obtain the adhesion of several allies and partners at the heart of the UN Security Council, which we are trying to do" but added that "states like Russia and China pose a certain number of problems."

The aim of military action "will not simply be to punish the Syrian regime and prevent it from carrying out a new attack of this type … but also to seek a way out of this crisis."

"It's extremely important for the international community if it intervenes to do so in a manner that the country can recover."

Opposition leader to meet Hollande

Speaking to the French press on Thursday the leader of Syria’s main opposition group Ahmad al Jarba, urged the West to take action to rid Syria of Assad.

Jarba told the daily Le Parisien he will tell French President FrancoisHollande in talks on Thursday morning: "Chemical Bashar has massacred our peopleon August 21. He must not escape the punishment he deserves."

The UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said Wednesday it was clear a chemical substance had been used in the August 21 attack in a Damascus suburb, killing hundreds of people.

"May he be attacked and may his regime disappear," said Jarba, branding Assad "an infection, a microbe for the region".

"This man and his family must be brought to justice in The Hague by the International Criminal Court."

The Syrian opposition expects Western countries to carry out "a punishing strike against the regime", followed by "political and military support for the Free Syrian Army", he added.

Assad has the support of Russia, Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Iran, he said, but added: "We are lacking everything. Our allies haven't given us anything we asked for."

Jarba also warned of Al-Qaeda's influence in the region.

"These extremists are manipulated by the regime to scare the world."

"A courageous decision must be taken. We need our friends. Words are not enough," he added.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

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.
SHOW COMMENTS