Macron: France will strike Syria chem­i­cal arms sites if used to kill


PARIS: France is pre­pared to launch tar­geted strikes against any site in Syria used to de­ploy chem­i­cal at­tacks that re­sult in the deaths of civil­ians, President Em­manuel Macron said.

Shortly be­fore the UN was due to dis­cuss Syria, Macron said Moscow, a close ally of Syr­ian President Bashar As­sad’s regime, had not done enough to per­mit re­lief ef­forts into the op­po­si­tion-held Da­m­as­cus sub­urb of Eastern Ghouta.

Asked about the Syr­ian con­flict at a news con­fer­ence in In­dia, Macron said France would be ready to strike if it found “ir­refutable ev­i­dence” chem­i­cal weapons had been used to kill.

“The day we have, in par­tic­u­lar in tan­dem with our Amer­i­can part­ners, ir­refutable proof that the red line was crossed — namely the chem­i­cal weapons were used to lethal ef­fect — we will do what the Amer­i­cans them­selves did more­over a few months ago; we would put our­selves in po­si­tion to pro­ceed with tar­geted strikes,” Macron said.

The French leader has made the threat be­fore but has so far made lit­tle head­way in­flu­enc­ing events in Syria.

“We are cross-match­ing our own in­for­ma­tion with that of our al­lies but to put it very clearly we have an in­de­pen­dent ca­pac­ity to iden­tify tar­gets and launch strikes where needed.”

Macron’s warn­ing came as a Syr­ian colonel, cited by Rus­sian news agen­cies, said Syr­ian mil­i­tary had found a work­shop in Eastern Ghouta used to make chem­i­cal weapons,

Syria signed a Rus­sian-bro­kered deal to give up its arse­nal of chem­i­cal weapons to avert US airstrikes af­ter a nerve gas at­tack killed hun­dreds of peo­ple in 2013. Last year, the US again ac­cused Da­m­as­cus of us­ing nerve gas and launched air strikes.

Since then, Washington has re­peat­edly ac­cused Da­m­as­cus of us­ing chlo­rine gas in at­tacks. Chlo­rine is far less deadly than nerve agents and pos­ses­sion of it is al­lowed for civil­ian pur­poses, but its use as a weapon is banned.

Da­m­as­cus and Moscow have been car­ry­ing out a fierce bomb­ing cam­paign and ground as­sault against Eastern Ghouta en­clave since mid-Fe­bru­ary, de­spite a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion call­ing for a coun­try­wide cease-fire.

“This is a de­bate we will have in the com­ing hours at the United Na­tions, where it will be shown that the con­ces­sions on the ground from Rus­sia, but first and fore­most the Syr­ian regime and its Ira­nian al­lies, are in­suf­fi­cient,” Macron said.

At the UN on Mon­day, French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre urged Rus­sia to halt the fierce of­fen­sive in Syria ahead of a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing called to take stock of a fail­ing cease­fire.

“Rus­sia can stop the blood­bath” given its in­flu­ence on the Syr­ian regime and its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the op­er­a­tions, said De­lat­tre

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