French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday he would order a military response against Syria if proof emerged that the regime has again used chemical weapons.
Macron said he has not seen evidence of such use, but that “France will strike” if any is discovered.
“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,” Macron told reporters, according to Reuters.
“Today, our agencies, our armed forces have not established that chemical weapons, as set out in treaties, have been used against the civilian population,” Macron added.
On-the-ground observers reported last month that Syrian forces were deploying chlorine gas during air strikes on rebel positions. Assad has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons, but international organizations have offered convincing evidence to the contrary.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) matched in January signatures in samples taken from the chemical weapons handed over by the Syrian regime in 2014 to those taken from the deadly 2013 sarin nerve gas attacks in Aleppo and a 2017 attack in Idlib.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said it is obvious that Assad has used chlorine gas in the Syrian civil war, but the U.S. is “even more concerned” about the possible use of sarin, a deadly nerve agent. He says a military response is on the table if investigators uncover evidence of a recent sarin attack.
Macron, who has pushed both the U.S. and France to take a more active role in Syria, echoed Mattis’ language in his remarks Tuesday.
“If we have proof that chemical weapons banned by treaties have been used, we will hit where they are made, where they come from,” Macron said, according to Bloomberg. “At this stage we don’t have established proof by our military or from our intelligence services that banned substances have been used against Syrian populations.”
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