A group of French officers was being held by Syrian authorities in Homs, a Lebanese newspaper has reported.

A Damascus-based pro-Syrian Palestinian source told the Lebanese Daily Star that the 13 officers were being detained in a field hospital. It was not clear what they were doing in Homs before they were arrested.

A French ministry official said they was no confirmation of the arrests, the report added.

But the source insisted that Paris and Damascus were trying to thrash out a deal over the officers.

Damascus did not comment on the reports and the claims could not be independently verified.

Two French journalists who were trapped in Homs were flown back to a military hospital outside Paris on 2 March after being smuggled out of the besieged city by activists.

Edith Bouvier and William Daniels were met by President Nicolas Sarkozy on their arrival.

Bouvier's leg was badly injured during an attack on a makeshift media centre in which Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed.