French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech. File picture: Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech. File picture: Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP

France has proof Syrian government conducted chemical attack - Macron

By John Irish And Sophie Louet Time of article published Apr 12, 2018

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PARIS - France has proof the Syrian

government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week and

will decide whether to strike back when all the necessary

information has been gathered, President Emmanuel Macron said on

Thursday.

France is expected to join the United States and Britain in

carrying out air strikes or some other form of attack in

response to the use of the weapons but it remains unclear when

that might happen or even if it definitely will.

"We have proof that last week, now 10 days ago, that

chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that

they were used by the regime of (President) Bashar al-Assad,"

Macron said, without giving details on the evidence or how it

was acquired.

The attack on the town of Douma on April 7 killed dozens of

people, including children.

"Our teams have been working on this all week and we will

need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most

useful and effective," Macron told broadcaster TF1 when asked

whether a red line had been crossed.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning:

"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be

very soon or not so soon at all!"

Macron said France wanted to remove the Syrian regime's

chemical weapons capabilities. When asked whether those would be

the targets of strikes he said:

"When we decide it, and once we have verified all the

information."

ALSO READ: May summons cabinet to discuss possible military action in Syria

The French army is preparing itself for a possible riposte

as it waits for the political green light, military sources told

Reuters, with several sources underscoring the difficulty of

outlining the objectives of such an operation.

The sources said if France were to attack, the strikes would

most likely come from warplanes rather than its naval frigate

off the Lebanese coast, and that they would likely to take off

from France rather than its Middle East bases.

The subject of chemical weapons' use in Syria has been a

thorny issue for Macron. He has warned that he would not accept

the use of chemical weapons, which he said was a "red line" that

would draw French action, even unilateral.

However, after persistent reports of chlorine attacks over

the last year, his foreign minister and aides have been more

nuanced saying a response would hinge on French intelligence

proving both the use of chemicals and fatalities, and a riposte

would most likely be in coordination with the United States.

"France will not allow any escalation that could harm the

stability of the region as a whole, but we can't let regimes

that think they can do everything they want, including the worst

things that violate international law, to act," Macron said. 

Reuters

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