France defends "punitive" act on Syria to promote political solution
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday justified the Socialists' determination to punish Syrian regime on the alleged chemical attack to pave the way for a political end to the years-long conflict.
Ayrault made the remarks during an emergency conference at the National Assembly, where members of parliament gathered to debate on France's response to the Syrian crisis.
"Not to act is to close the door to a political settlement of the Syrian conflict. Yes, the solution to end the Syrian crisis is political and not military," Ayrault said.
He stressed that "the serious threat associated with the use of chemical weapons compels us to act."
The parliament emergency session came as a majority of French people expressed their support of putting a military intervention in Syria to a parliamentary vote. But the prime minister ruled out the vote and said Wednesday's meeting was only planned for a debate.
"In any case, the final decision will be taken by the president when the coalition will be formed, the only way to create the conditions for action," Ayrault detailed, adding that Paris will neither act alone nor send ground troops to the conflict-torn country.
A nine-page intelligence report, declassified by the French government on Monday, indicated that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind the alleged chemical attack in Damascus on Aug. 21 which killed "at least 281 people."
But the Syrian president denied the allegations and said in an interview with French daily Le Figaro on Monday that France will face negative repercussions if Paris and its allies launch a military intervention against his country.
With no answer to the alleged attack, according to Ayrault, the security in the region will be on edge and attempts to stop suspected nuclear programs in Iran and DPRK will be in vain.
"To not act will put in danger peace and security in the entire region. What credibility would our international commitments against non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons stand for?" the prime minister addressed the deputies.
"What message would this send to other regimes...? The message would be clear: You can continue," he added.
In a morning interview with the French Info radio, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged actions to punish the Assad regime. "If you want a political solution, you have to move the situation," otherwise, the Syiran authorities will "continue to do what they are doing," he warned.
A BVA poll last Saturday showed most French people do not approve of a military action against Syria and most do not trust Hollande's ability to conduct it.
A CSA poll for BFM television published Tuesday evening showed that 74 percent of French people were in favour of a vote in parliament over military action in Syria, with 42 percent "firmly for" a vote.