France will strike Syria if chemical weapons use proven

Lucy Bush
February 16, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday that "France will strike" if chemical weapons are used against civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of worldwide treaties, but that he had not yet seen proof this was the case.

"We will strike the place where these launches are made or where they are organized", Macron was quoted as having told the presidential press corps.

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

"As soon as such proof is established, I will do what I said".

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On-the-ground observers reported last month that Syrian forces were deploying chlorine gas during air strikes on rebel positions.

The Syrian government strongly denies using chemical weapons and says it does not target civilians.

Also on Wednesday, Mekdad said the Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria under Turkish attack is "is an integral part of the Syrian territories", adding that they "will never give up one centimeter of these territories".

And the first aid convoy since November entered the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta Monday, the United Nations said, after intensive bombardment by the army killed more than 250 civilians last week.

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The Foreign Ministry said in a briefing that Paris is now "assessing whether a chemical of toxic substance has been used" in Syria but this requires "in-depth scientific analysis in a laboratory".

Last year, Mr Macron told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a "red line" that would draw an "immediate response" from France.

But Defense Minister Florence Parly was more reserved on Friday when asked if Damascus had crossed the "red line". "So we, alongside the others, are working on trying to confirm this, as we clearly have to get the facts straight". 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.

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