French President Emmanuel Macron has warned the Syrian regime that the use of chemical weapons will result in French retaliation. The Syrian government has reponded saying it does not possess such weapons.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that "France will strike" if chemical weapons are used against civilians in Syria, but that he was yet to see proof of their use.
Macron said last May that the use of chemical weapons would represent a "red line."
Macron's comments to reporters
The Syrian government on Wednesday denied that it possessed chemical weapons and branded them as "immoral and unacceptable," the state news agency SANA reported.
"Syria's government categorically denies possessing ... chemical weapons," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said. "We consider the use of such arms as immoral and unacceptable, whatever the context," he added.
Enough red lines'
The vice-president of the Syria Civil Defence, or "White Helmets," responded on Tuesday, saying France should stop talking about red lines and focus on real action.
"Use another word because all the red lines have been crossed and the (Syrians) are disappointed with these words," Abdulrahman Almawwas told reporters in Paris.
Spotlight on chemical weapons: In a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Macron expressed concern over signs that chlorine bombs had been used against civilians in Syria. Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told local broadcaster BFM TV that "all indications show us today that the Syrian regime is using chlorine gas at the moment."
Do red lines mean anything? A red line has commonly been used among diplomats as a boundary or a limit that should not be crossed particularly in conflict. Former US President Barack Obama set out a red line for Syria in 2012, when he warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the use, or even the movement, of chemical weapons would trigger US military reprisals. But Obama opted out of military reprisal and secured an agreement to dismantle the Syrian chemical arsenal.
Have chemical weapons been used in Syria?
av/aw (Reuters, AFP)