News / Middle East

France Warns Syria on Chemical Weapons Use

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, August 17, 2012.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, August 17, 2012.
VOA News
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says Western powers would have a "massive" response to any use of chemical or biological weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Fabius said in broadcast interviews Monday there is broad agreement about such a response, calling chemical weapons "a very big danger."

His comments come as the head of the International Red Cross travels to Syria for a three-day visit that will include meetings with Assad and other officials. The group says the talks will focus on the "rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation" in Syria and the challenges in reaching those impacted by the conflict.

Meanwhile, the new United Nations-Arab League envoy tasked with bringing a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis says he has "no illusions" that his job will be easy.

Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and Arab League envoy for Syria (2012 photo)Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and Arab League envoy for Syria (2012 photo)
Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and Arab League envoy for Syria (2012 photo)
Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and Arab League envoy for Syria (2012 photo)
Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi said in an interview broadcast Monday by the BBC that he does not yet see any ways around the barriers that blocked the efforts of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, but that he will continue trying.

Brahimi says he realizes the difficulty of his task, and that success "should be possible."

Annan quit last month, complaining that he could not fulfill his mission due to international divisions on Syria and escalating attacks by both Syrian government and rebel forces.

Brahimi says the lack of international action as people in Syria continue dying "is a terrible weight."  

Opposition activists are reporting more deaths Monday, saying a bombing by a Syrian warplane has killed at least 15 people in the northern town of Al-Bab.

  • This image made from video provided by Shaam News Network (SNN) and accessed by the Associated Press on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 purports to show people walking through rubble after shelling in Idlib, Syria.
  • Residents inspect the damage after what was said to be an air raid by Syrian government forces near Azaz, September 3, 2012.
  • A Syrian child stands next to rebel fighters checking a house that was damaged in bombing by government forces in Marea, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, September 4, 2012.
  • A Syrian rebel fighter prepares his AK-47 before going on patrol in Marea, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, September 4, 2012.
  • A view shows the wreckage after a car bomb exploded in the Jaramana district of southeast Damascus September 3, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • Civilians wait to receive food rations in the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz. At the Azaz-Kilis crossing, Syrians described dire conditions for refugees still trapped on the other side of the border.
  • Syrian Hamzah Abu Bakri, displays portraits of his brothers who were killed last week while standing by their vegetable shop in Aleppo, Syria, September 2, 2012.
  • Boys play on a Syrian military tank (destroyed during fighting with the rebels), in Azaz, September 2, 2012.
  • A Syrian refugee hangs clothes to dry at Zaatari Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, September 2, 2012.
  • Syrian barbers who fled their homes shave the heads of other displaced men at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey.
  • A civilian pushes a baby stroller containing his belongings as he flees the El Edaa district in Aleppo, September 2, 2012.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
September 03, 2012 7:18 PM
This is a legacy question in the West. So many people from across the world were murdered by chemical weapons in Northern Europe during WW1 in these European civil wars.. Of course, there would be no recourse but to throw oneself into the fight at the point. This is thee red line we all will hold because of those who went before us.

by: Mike from: California
September 03, 2012 12:55 PM
Really? France is warning Syria against using chemical weapons? Does anyone really think France will attack Syria under any conditions? I don't. Syria knows it has a free-hand within its own boarders and will eventually kill the oposition. The west has already made it clear that there will be no intervention. Iran, China, and Russia will make sure Asad has what he needs both politically and materially. I think western leaders are just trying to create political cover they can refer to later so they can say they "did" something when they really didn't.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs