Friday, August 30, 2013

France stands firm on Syria despite shock UK vote

(France24) French President François Hollande said Friday that the UK parliamentary vote against taking military action in Syria would not affect France’s will to act alongside the United States in “punishing“ Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

France has not changed its position on a possible military intervention in Syria, French President François Hollande said on Friday, following a vote in the UK’s lower house against the motion.

Hollande told French daily Le Monde in an interview that he supported taking “firm” punitive action over an attack he said had caused “irreparable” harm to the Syrian people and said he would work closely with France’s allies to punish the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Asked if France could take action without Britain, Hollande replied: “Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France.”

French defence officials said openly on Thursday for the first time that the military is preparing for a possible operation, but stopped short of announcing armed intervention.

Hollande, who does not need parliamentary approval to launch an attack, stressed in an earlier interview the importance of a political solution rather than a military one, but only if world powers were “capable” of stopping the civil war in Syria, which has killed more than 100,000 people since it began two and a half years ago.

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