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

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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.

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