Macron says Syria crossed France’s ‘red line,’ ‘military to act upon request’
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday night that France had joined the US and Britain in an ongoing operation of strikes to target “the capacities of the Syrian regime to produce and use chemical weapons.
“We cannot tolerate the normalization of the use of chemical weapons,” he said in a statement issued shortly after huge explosions were heard in Syria’s capital early Saturday followed by the sound of airplanes overhead.
For Macron, “the facts and the responsibility of the Syrian regime are not in doubt,” concerning the “deaths of dozens of men, women and children” in what he said was a chemical weapons attack on April 7 in Douma.
“The red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed,” he said.
“I have ordered the French army to intervene tonight as part of the international operation in coalition with the US and Britain directed against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime,” he said.
US President Donald Trump announced late Friday that a joint US-British-French operation had been launched on Syria, targeting the “criminal” regime of Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.
Syria’s capital was rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke. Associated Press reporters in Damascus saw smoke rising from east Damascus.
Syrian state TV said the attack had begun on the capital, though it wasn’t immediately clear what was targeted. It also said Syrian air defenses had responded to the US-British-French attack.
While the strikes on Syria ended, French Presidency sources said on Saturday that the military is “ready to act upon request.”
Relaunch peace process
Even then, France wants to start working “right now” on resuming the political process aimed at ending the conflict in Syria, officials said Saturday after Western powers carried out what it called “legitimate” military strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“A plan for ending the crisis must be found, with a political solution. We are ready to start working right now with all countries who want to participate,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a press conference.
Speaking alongside Defense Minister Florence Parly, he said the strikes carried out overnight by France, Britain and the US were “legitimate” in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held Syrian enclave of Douma last week.
- With AFP and Reuters.
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