France

Syrian ambassador to Paris denies France 24 resignation report

France 24

Syria's ambassador to Paris has accused RFI’s sister station, France 24, of identity theft after the channel broadcast an interview in which she appeared to announce her resignation. France 24 raised the alert over a suspected hoax shortly after broadcasting the comments.

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Lamia Shakkur denied Wednesday she was resigning in protest at her government's crackdown on dissent, saying a broadcast of a telephone interview with a woman claiming to be her was a fraud.

"I accuse France 24 of identity fraud," Shakkur told BFM TV in the Syrian embassy in Paris, in front of a Syrian flag and a portrait of its President Bashar al-Assad. “I will take legal action against France 24 for these acts of misinformation, which are part of a campaign of false information against Syria since March 2011."

The woman who spoke on France 24 on Tuesday said she had offered her resignation to Assad because "I cannot support the cycle of violence".

"I recognise the legitimacy of the people's demands for more democracy and freedom," she added.

The Reuters news agency later reported that the Syrian embassy had confirmed the resignation but said Shakkur would make no further comment for the time being.

France 24 says it may have been set up.

"We do not rule out a manipulation or a provocation," the channel said in a statement. "If that is the case, we will sue any persons, organisations or official agencies that may be behind it."

Western powers are putting together a draft UN Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria, which rights groups claim has cost at least 1,100 civilian lives. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that his country would oppose the move because it would "create the conditions for another armed conflict", following the intervention in Libya.

The Syrian government yesterday said that 120 police officers had been killed in an ambush by armed men.

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