France threatens to hit Syria if chemical attacks proven

Paris’ warnings are a reaction to recent accusations that Assad’s regime has repeatedly used chlorine gas to attack civilians in rebel-held areas.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

French President Emmanuel Macron declared Tuesday that if his country sees “proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties” have been used in Syria, it would hit the sources of those weapons. Such attacks are “a red line,” he noted, repeating something he had said last May during a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“A very clear red line exists on our side: the use of chemical weapons by anyone,” Macron had said, promising “retaliation and an immediate response from France.”

Since the beginning of the year, three chlorine attacks were reported in Idlib Province and Douma, Damascus. The latest attack was on Feb. 5, in which nine people suffered breathing problems and irritation in their eyes from a barrel bomb dropped by a government helicopter, according to the Syrian opposition.

There has often been proof of chemicals being used by Damascus against civilians since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, although the government routinely denies using such weapons, while accusing its enemies of doing so.

In 2013, for example, there were several attacks which killed dozens of people, after which French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asserted that there was “no doubt” that the Syrian regime used the never gas sarin in multiple cases.

The UN Security Council, of which France is a member, also adopted a resolution in 2015 threatening action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if chemical arms were used again.

Most recently, in January, France launched the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, a new initiative that seeks to increase information-sharing about reported chemical weapons attacks and publicly lists individuals and entities sanctioned for their involvement in chemical weapons use.

The only Western country to take any retaliatory action whatsoever so far, however, has been the United States. Last year President Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian airbase after accusing Assad of using nerve gas (sarin) in an April attack that killed over 80 people. Video footage from the event showed hundreds convulsing and foaming at the mouth, many of them children.