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Reaction in France Mixed Toward Allied Syrian Airstrikes


French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, right, and French Defense Minister Florence Parly give an official statement in the press room after attending an emergency meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Reaction has been mixed in France to President Emmanuel Macron's decision to join the United States and Britain in launching strikes against the Syrian regime.

On Saturday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the joint military action as justified, limited and proportionate and said it's objectives had been realized.

"A large part of his chemical arsenal has been destroyed," Le Drian told France's BFMTV in an interview, referring to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

On Thursday, Macron said France has proof," the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

Damascus skies erupt with surface to air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018.
Damascus skies erupt with surface to air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Macron's decision to join the military action is a sharp break from his predecessor, Francois Hollande. Hollande also pushed for strikes against the Syrian regime following a chemical attack. But when the United States did not act, under former President Barack Obama, France's military stayed put as well.

On Saturday, far left and far right lawmakers sharply criticized France's decision to join the United States in launching the strikes.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who lost to Macron's during France's 2017 presidential vote, warned via Twitter France risked losing its status as an "independent power," and the strikes could lead to "unforeseen and potentially dramatic consequences."

Far left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon also took to Twitter to denounce the French action, calling the strikes an "irresponsible escalation" that did not have European or French Parliament backing. Macron has promised a parliamentary debate on the strikes.

Not surprisingly, members of Macron's ruling centrist La Republique en Marche (LREM) party have backed the military action. Party head Christophe Castaner called them "necessary and life-saving," and said France could not remain "blind and dumb" in reaction to the suspected chemical weapons attack.

Similarly, Socialist Party head Olivier Faure said the "repeated" chemical attacks allegedly carried out by the Syrian government "demanded a reaction." But, Faure added, "it is urgent that new discussions open," at the United Nations.

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