France says Syria red line only crossed if gas attacks 'lethal': minister

Posted February 16, 2018

"Today, our services have not established proof that proscribed chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations", he continued.

"As soon as such proof is established, I will do what I said".

On January 13, 2018 there was a suspected chlorine attack in an area between Douma and Harasta in Eastern Ghouta, using ground-launched rockets, caused a small number of civilians to be hospitalized for breathing difficulties, according to medics and human rights groups.

The Syrian government strongly denies using chemical weapons and says it does not target civilians.

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And the first aid convoy since November entered the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta Monday, the United Nations said, after intensive bombardment by the army killed more than 250 civilians last week.

"On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line", Macron told reporters, according to Reuters.

In February 2015, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said 98 percent of chemical weapons declared by Syria had been verified by the OPCW as destroyed and that production sites were being torn down.

But Defence Minister Florence Parly was more reserved on Friday when asked if Damascus had crossed the "red line". "So we, alongside the others, are working on trying to confirm this, as we clearly have to get the facts straight".

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Following a deadly chemical weapons attack near Damascus in 2013, the United States and Russian Federation agreed a plan with Syria to remove and destroy its chemical weapons stockpile within a year.

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.

That said, Macron says he has not seen any proof on the attacks, suggesting this isn't going to be used as an idle excuse to justify military intervention.

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