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France calls for force if Syria chemical weapons claim true

Civilian victims of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus
Civilian victims of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

France wants a reaction of "force" if a chemical weapons massacre in Syria is confirmed but ruled out sending ground troops, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday. And he said that the UN Security Council could be ignored if it fails to act.

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"If it is proved to be true, France's position is that there must be a reaction," Fabius told RMC radio and BFM-TV, speaking of a "reaction with force".

But, he added, that it would be "impossible" to send ground troops to fight forces loyal to President Bashar al-Asssad, while refusing to go into detail as to what measures could be taken.

On 4 June, after another report of chemical weapons use, Fabius suggested that armed action against the factory where such weapons are produced could be taken.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday after Syrian opposition claims that 1,300 people were killed in a chemical weapon attack near Damascus.

Assad's government denied the accusation and Russia called the claim a "provocation".

The Security Council went no further than calling for light to be shed on the question, reporedly because of opposition to sterner measures from Russia and China.

"If the UN Security Council cannot take a decision, then decisions have to be taken some other way," Fabius said. "How? I'm not going any further than that."

All Security Council members, including the Russians, have signed the international agreement against the use of chemical weapons, he pointed out, calling on them to be "coherent".

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