French group to open two hotels in Damascus as airstrikes kill civilians

The Louvre Hotels Group made the announcement while Syrian regime forces continue to launch airstrikes in civilian areas (AFP Photo/Abdulaziz KETAZ)

Paris (AFP) - Louvre Hotels Group, owned by China's Jin Jiang, has signed an agreement to open two hotels under its own name in Damascus, it said on Saturday, a day after the UN announced an internal investigation into the bombing of hospitals in Syria.

The confirmation of the two hotels opening, after recent media reports, also came 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 French company 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.