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Aug 30, 2013

France says ready to act over Syria, despite British refusal

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.

Aug 30, 2013

France says British vote does not change its will to act over Syria

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.

Aug 22, 2013

U.N. presses Syria to allow gas attack inspection

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.

Aug 22, 2013

Sahara jihadist groups merge, threaten French interests – report

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.

Jul 24, 2013

Exclusive – Diplomats test waters on U.N. Syrian aid resolution

PARIS (Reuters) – Diplomats have started exploring whether they could get enough votes to pass a U.N. Security EXCouncil resolution to help aid groups get into Syria as the death count mounts, a French diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

Syria’s civil war has killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

Jul 24, 2013

Diplomats test waters on U.N. Syrian aid resolution

PARIS (Reuters) – Diplomats have started exploring whether they would be able to get enough votes to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution to help aid groups get into Syria as the death count mounts, a French diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

The civil war has killed more than 100,000 people and left millions in desperate need of aid, say humanitarian groups.

Jul 23, 2013

Syria’s opposition leaders lobby Paris for advanced weapons

PARIS (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition coalition said on Tuesday it still did not have enough sophisticated weapons to turn the tide against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and would try to convince Paris to provide more military help.

Speaking ahead of a visit to the United States and the United Nations on Friday, newly elected Syrian National Coalition (SNC) leader Ahmed al-Jarba and rebel military commander General Salim Idriss were in Paris to meet French officials including President Francois Hollande.

Jul 15, 2013

Syria coalition plans council to hasten rebel restructuring

PARIS (Reuters) – Syria’s opposition coalition wants to create a 10-person executive council to reorganize disparate rebel factions into a structured army with adequate financing and weapons, one of its senior members said on Monday.

Islamist militant groups that have come to the fore in Syria reject the authority of the Western- and Gulf Arab-backed Syrian National Coalition, whose leaders live mostly abroad. Last week foreign Islamist fighters killed a commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is aligned with the coalition.

Jun 26, 2013

New French-backed Syrian radio promises independent voice

PARIS, June 26 (Reuters) – Syrian journalists backed by
France launched a Paris-based radio station on Wednesday that
will broadcast deep into Syria, aiming to provide what they said
would be independent coverage of the civil war.

Apart from their military conflict, the Syrian government
and rebels are waging a propaganda war using television, radio
and the Internet. Access for international media is restricted
by the Damascus authorities and by security constraints.

Jun 20, 2013

France’s Fabius wants more talks with Syria rebels before arming

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Thursday it needed more talks with Syrian rebels before it could supply them with heavy weapons and said recent gains by Syrian government forces did not mean President Bashar al-Assad was heading for a “complete victory.”

Foreign ministers from the Friends of Syria anti-Assad alliance, which includes the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, will meet on Saturday in the Qatari capital Doha to discuss assistance for the Free Syrian Army.