French president says he has proof the Syrian government used chemical weapons

Kevin Lamarque  Reuters                   US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the UN last year
Kevin Lamarque Reuters US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the UN last year
Author

24 April, 2018

On Thursday, Macron said he had "proof" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime had used chemical weapons in Saturday's attack on Douma, the main city in the longtime rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, and that the United States and France would response "in due course".

The leader of the far left France Insoumise party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, accused Macron on Twitter of attacking Syria without proof of chemical weapons use and without a United Nations mandate, an European Union agreement or a vote of the French Parliament.

Macron previously vowed to launch military action if France had evidence of chemical weapons being used.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg later expressed support for the strikes by its three member states, saying that they "will reduce the regime's ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons".

He added: "We have proof that chemical weapons were used last week, at least chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad".

"We will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective", Macron said.

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Macron's comments were widely interpreted as moving France closer to joining the United States in a possible military strike despite critics' worries about a reprise of France's participation in a 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation intervention in Libya, which helped bring down ruler Moammar Gadhafi but threw Libya into deeper chaos.

He reiterated that Canada condemns the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta. The Syrian government denies responsibility.

Meanwhile, Trump has softened his rhetoric against Russian Federation and Syria, seeming to indicate in a tweet Thursday morning that an attack on Assad's regime was not imminent.

On Tuesday, Mr Macron said any French action would target Syria's chemical weapons abilities.

"We call upon.members of the global community to seriously consider the possible consequences of such accusations, threats and especially action [against Syria]", said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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