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chemical attack

Macron 'has proof' Syria was behind gas attack, mulls over military action

The French president said any French action would target Syria’s chemical weapons abilities.

France Macron Strikes YOAN VALAT YOAN VALAT

FRANCE HAS PROOF that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and has crossed a line that could prompt French airstrikes, President Emmanuel Macron said.

Macron did not specify whether France is planning military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. He said he has been talking regularly this week with US President Donald Trump about the most effective response.

The US, France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike. Trump tweeted yesterday that missiles “will be coming” and today tweeted that an attack “could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

Speaking on TF1 television, Macron said that France would not tolerate “regimes that think everything is permitted”.

He previously said any French action would target Syria’s chemical weapons abilities.

Syrian opposition activists and medics say a suspected gas attack last week in Douma killed more than 40 people. The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

Macron’s office and the French military aren’t commenting on pending plans. A military operation would be a big deal for Macron, his first military action as president, at a time of heightened domestic tensions over labour law changes.

France Macron Strikes Emmanuel Macron is interviewed about its response to the nerve gas attack in Syria in a school in France. YOAN VALAT YOAN VALAT

Macron doesn’t need parliamentary permission to launch an operation.

French forces have not directly targeted Syrian government sites before, but France has supported rebel forces since early in the fighting that began in 2011.

Geopolitics specialist Dominique Moisi, a senior adviser at the Montaigne Institute think tank in Paris, said

We have said that we were not allowing the use of chemical weapons, that this was a red line… Not to react is to prove to the rest of the world that what we say does not matter.

Moisi stressed the “risk of escalation” of the conflict amid increasing concerns about a US-Russia proxy war.

“So striking at Syria is not a good solution, but doing nothing after the use of chemical weapons is even worse,” he said.

Prostate cancer treatment announcement PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May summoned her Cabinet back from their holidays today to discuss military action against Syria.

May has indicated she wants Britain to join in any US-led strikes in response to the attack in Douma. She has said all the indications” are that Assad’s forces were responsible and the use of chemical weapons “cannot go unchallenged.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany won’t participate in possible military action in Syria, but supports sending a message that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, following a phone call with Macron today.

SYRIA-DAMASCUS-RUSSIAN POLICE Russian military police forces are seen at the Wafideen area near the town of Douma, on the northeast of Damascus (today). Xinhua News Agency / PA Images Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

France already has some 1,100 troops involved in its Operation Chammal, created in 2014 to fight Islamic State extremists in Iraq and extended in 2015 to Syria, as part of the US-led coalition. Multiple Islamic State retaliatory attacks have targeted French soil, including just last month.

French warplanes operate out of French bases in Jordan and Al Dhafra in United Arab Emirates. France also has a naval base in Abu Dhabi, and an aviation center in Qatar at the US air base at Al Udeid. France has 650 troops based in the United Arab Emirates overall.

In addition, a French frigate is stationed off of Lebanon in international waters.

In Syria, French warplanes carried out 23 sorties in late March and early April but fired no strikes, as part of support for Syrian opposition forces fighting in the last pockets of IS control.

Associated Foreign Press
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