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SYRIA

‘French family of 11’ en route for jihad in Syria

An investigation has been opened by anti-terror police after reports in France said eleven members of one family including the grandmother and six-month-old baby, have left the country bound for Syria in the hope of joining Isis extremists.

'French family of 11' en route for jihad in Syria
Members of the Isis group of Islamic fighters in a show of strength. Photo: AFP

There are already believed to be hundreds of French nationals fighting a jihad in Syria and they could soon see their numbers swelled by eleven members of the same family.

According to reports in France three generations of the family from Nice left for Turkey, from where they hope to cross the border into Syria.

The family members include the grandmother, her three children, their partners and their children – the youngest of which is said to be six months old.

Several members of the group have become radicalised in recent months, reports say and all contact with the family was lost in September.

The alert was raised by the grandfather when two of his grandchildren did not attend school this week. When he checked his daughter's Twitter he account he saw that she had posted photos from Turkey.

France’s anti-terrorist police the DGSI has launched a probe to try to confirm the reports and track down the family.

It’s not the first time that reports have emerged in France of families leaving together to fight Jihad in Syria.

Last month, a couple from Orleans left with their three-year-old daughter to fight alongside Isis forces in Syria.

In an interview with French television the couple, who left everything behind, said they wanted to join the “great heros” in the fight against the “infidels”.

Since 2012 it’s estimated that around 150 French nationals have joined Isis forces but estimates say hundreds more have left to fight jihad in Syria – all from varied backgrounds, dispelling widely-held beliefs that most are disadvantaged, lost youths, experts say.

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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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