'France will strike' if proof found chemical weapons used in Syria – president

Emmanuel Macron has promised to “strike” Syria if any evidence emerges that chemical weapons were used against civilians. However, he added that French intelligence agencies do not have proof to back up such allegations.

“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,” Macron told reporters in Paris on Tuesday. “Today, our agencies, our armed forces have not established that chemical weapons, as set out in treaties, have been used against the civilian population.”

If any evidence is found, France will strike the places where chemical weaponry shipments “originate,” he added. The French President also recalled his phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which took place last Friday.

“I’ve reiterated it to President Putin, asking to make it very clear to the Syrian regime, which has reaffirmed that it does not use chemical weapons … but we are watching it,” Macron stated.

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United Nations Security Council meeting.  © Shannon Stapleton

While President Macron has been mulling “immediate reprisals” for chemical weaponry usage in Syria since assuming office, France has not undertaken any action due to “the lack of certainty on what happened in Syria,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly said last Friday.

The country prefers to avoid any hot-headed moves and does not act without having reliable information on the alleged chemical incidents.

“We have some indications of possible chlorine use [in Syria], but we have no absolute confirmation,” the Minister said. “So we, alongside the others, are working on trying to confirm this, as we clearly have to get the facts straight.”

The French Foreign Minister, however, pointed fingers at the Syrian government, stating last week that “all indications show us today that chlorine is used by the regime right now in Syria.”

The most recent allegations of a possible chemical attack in Syria emerged last month. The accusations were purveyed by controversial sources, including the notorious White Helmets NGO and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The allegations have not been independently verified so far.

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