Macron: ‘France will strike’ Syria if proven Assad used chemical weapons

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FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a Trianon Council meeting (Conseil de coordination du dialogue de Trianon) aiming to strenghten the links between France and Russia at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Febuary 9, 2018.     REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool
French
President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a Trianon Council meeting
aiming to strenghten the links between France and Russia at the
Elysee Palace in Paris

Thomson
Reuters


  • French President Emmanuel Macron said on
    Tuesday that “France will strike” if chemical weapons are used
    against civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of
    international treaties.
  • Macron admitted he had not yet seen proof that chemical
    weapons had been used by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s
    regime.
  • The vice-president of the Syria Civil Defence, or
    “White Helmets”, volunteer force said France should stop
    talking and take real action.

PARIS (Reuters) -President
Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that
“France will strike” if chemical weapons are used against
civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of international
treaties, but that he had not yet seen proof this was the case.

Macron said last May that the use of chemical
weapons would represent a “red line”. In a telephone call with
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed concern over
signs that chlorine bombs had been used against civilians in
Syria.

“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red
line,” Macron told reporters. “If we have
proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are
used, we will strike the place where they are made.”

“Today, our agencies, our armed forces have not established that
chemical weapons, as set out in treaties, have been used against
the civilian population.”

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical
weapons and said it targets only armed rebels and militants.

Last week was one of the bloodiest in the Syrian conflict as
Syrian government forces, who are backed by Russia and Iran,
bombarded two of the last major rebel areas of Syria – Eastern
Ghouta near Damascus and the northwestern province of Idlib.

Diplomatic efforts have made scant progress toward ending a war
now approaching its eighth year, which has killed hundreds of
thousands of people and forced half the pre-war Syrian population
of 23 million from their homes.

Syria signed the international treaty banning chemical weapons
and allowed monitors to destroy its poison gas arsenal after an
agreement reached in 2013 to avert U.S. retaliation for what
Washington said was a nerve gas attack near Damascus that killed
more than 1000 people. Washington again accused Syria of using
nerve gas last year and struck Syrian targets.

In recent weeks, rescue workers, aid groups and the United States
have accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas, which it
possesses legally for uses such as water purification, as a
chemical weapon against civilians in Ghouta and Idlib.

France, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has
struggled to wield influence on Syria. Critics who
accuse Macron of inaction say he has not
given a clear definition of whether use of chlorine would for him
constitute a chemical attack.

On Tuesday, the vice-president of the Syria Civil Defence, or
“White Helmets”, volunteer force said France should stop talking
and take real action.

France and the United Nations have repeatedly called in past
months for a ceasefire and the opening of aid corridors to
alleviate Syria’s humanitarian crisis. Russia, Assad’s most
powerful ally, said last week a ceasefire was not realistic.



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