April 21, 2018

Macron claims to have proof of Syrian 'chemical attack'

13 April 2018, 01:41 | Marta Robbins

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

"We have the proof that chemical weapons - at least chlorine gas - were used by Assad's regime", Macron told France's TF1 television.

Merkel said in Berlin: "Germany will not take part in possible military action - I want to make clear again that there are no decisions - but we see, and support this, that everything is being done to send a signal that this use of chemical weapons is not acceptable". It prompted global condemnation and the promise of action in response from U.S. President Donald Trump and Macron.

Macron was one of several Western leaders to enter the diplomatic crisis following last week's attack on Douma, which left 70 people dead, including 40 who showed signs of exposure to chemical toxins, Efe news reported citing a report by the World Health Organization.

But he repeated that he wanted to also avoid "an escalation".

"Regimes that think they can do everything they want, including the worst things that violate worldwide law, cannot be allowed to act".

Macron's statement occurred as French military forces are preparing for an impending action against Syria, using air and naval forces.

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The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations urged the U.S. and its allies to refrain from military action against Syria.

"This strategic vision means reducing all the projects of expansionist political Islam which could feed other forms of terrorism and destabilise the region", Macron said of Riyadh's regional rival. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all", he added. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and Mr Trump's national security team met on Wednesday after the president warned Russian Federation to expect a missile strike on Syria, tweeting missiles "will be coming". Despite repeated attacks in which chemical weapons were believed to have been been used, the Élysée until now has said France lacked absolute proof.

Macron reiterated that France wasn't at war with Syria but that its enemy in the region was ISIS, the Islamist movement that has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks on French territory dating back to 2015.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will discuss ways of ending "the chemical massacre" in Syria during a telephone call with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Douma was the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus.

However, after persistent reports of chlorine attacks over the a year ago, 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 US.

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