PARIS/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria accepted a Russian proposal on Tuesday to give up chemical weapons and win a reprieve from U.S. strikes, while its warplanes bombed rebel positions in Damascus for the first time since the West threatened military action.
The Russian diplomatic initiative, which apparently emerged from off-the-cuff remarks by the U.S. secretary of state, marks a sudden reversal after weeks in which the West appeared finally headed towards intervention in a two-and-a-half year old war.
PARIS (Reuters) – France sought to seize the diplomatic initiative on Syria on Tuesday, saying it would push for a U.N. resolution setting out terms for the destruction of its chemical weapons and warning of “serious consequences” if it resisted.
The announcement by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius came a day after a surprise proposal by Russia that its Syrian ally hand over its chemical weapons stocks, a move that could avert possible U.S.-led military strikes.
PARIS (Reuters) – French, it is said, is the language of love.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flaunted his fluency in the language on Saturday to deliver something of a love letter to France, one of the few world powers that seems likely to join the United States in any military action against Syria.
Following the British parliament’s August 29 vote to reject any British use of force against Syria, which the United States accuses of gassing its own people with sarin, France has made no secret of its desire to play Washington’s supporting partner.
PARIS (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad warned Syria would retaliate if France takes part in foreign strikes on his forces, while Paris said it had intelligence proving Assad had ordered chemical attacks and was determined to punish him.
“If the policies of the French state are hostile to the Syrian people, the state will be their enemy,” Assad said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro. “There will be repercussions, negative ones obviously, on French interests.”
PARIS (Reuters) – Senior members of France’s ruling party rebuffed opposition calls for a parliamentary debate on whether to take military action against Syria, saying on Monday lawmakers should respect the president’s constitutional right to decide on attacks.
President Francois Hollande’s demands for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be punished for an alleged chemical strike have left him out on a limb since Britain’s parliament voted against taking part in any action and U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek Congress approval before any assault.
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s government should not bow to calls from opposition figures to have lawmakers vote on whether to take military action in Syria, the senior government Socialist who heads parliament’s foreign affairs committee said on Monday.
President Francois Hollande’s demands for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be punished for an alleged chemical attack have left him out on a limb since the British parliament voted against carrying out punitive strikes and U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek Congress approval before any action.
PARIS (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande said a British parliamentary vote against taking military action in Syria would not affect France’s will to act to punish Bashar al-Assad’s government, which it blamed for a chemical attack on civilians.
Hollande told the daily Le Monde he still 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.
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande said a British parliamentary vote against taking military action in Syria would not affect France’s will to act to punish Bashar al-Assad’s government for a chemical weapons attack on civilians.
Hollande told the daily Le Monde in an interview that he still 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.
BEIRUT/PARIS (Reuters) – The United Nations demanded Syria give its chemical weapons experts immediate access on Thursday to rebel-held Damascus suburbs where poison gas appears to have killed hundreds just a few miles from the U.N. team’s hotel.
There was no sign, however, that they would soon be taking samples at the scene of horrors that have drawn comparison with the gassing of thousands of Iraqi Kurds at Halabja in 1988.
NOUAKCHOTT/PARIS, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Two Islamist groups
that broke away from al Qaeda’s North African wing and fought in
Mali have merged, pledging to attack French interests, according
to a statement published on Thursday.
The move unites fighters led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the
alleged mastermind of an attack on an Algerian gas plant in
January, with MUJWA, an Islamist group that was scattered by a
French offensive on al Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali this year.