France increasing security for Syrian exiles

December 2, 2011 - 5:10 AM

PARIS (AP) — French authorities have increased security for Syrian opposition members based here who have come under threat, the interior minister said Friday.

Claude Gueant did not specify the nature of the threats or of the new security measures.

Speaking to reporters in Paris, he said the measures would affect members of the Syrian National Council. That would include the opposition council's Paris-based leader, Burhan Ghalioun.

France, Syria's one-time colonial ruler, has strongly endorsed the council and holds a tough diplomatic line against the deadly crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on an anti-government uprising.

The U.N. estimates the regime's suppression has led to more than 4,000 deaths.

"Measures have been taken to ensure the protection" of Syrian opposition members in France, Gueant said. "We know that the Syrian government is violent, and doesn't hesitate to turn to threats."

French police had already been alerted to potential violence toward Syrian opposition members after scuffles at an anti-Assad demonstration in Paris in August.