France - Syria

France, Assad should unite against 'common enemy' in Syria, says French MP

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Reuters/Sana Handout

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and France have a "common enemy", an MP visiting Syria said Monday, calling for a "united front” against the Islamic State armed group.

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Jérôme Lambert, who is also vice-president of the Franco-Syrian group in the Assembly, told Europe 1 by telephone from Syria that it would be “smart to stand together” with Assad’s regime. His comments come a day after French President Francois Hollande stressed that the future of Syria “cannot be with Bashar al-Assad.”

Lambert joins two other Socialist MPs, Gerard Bapt and Christian Hutin, on a trip that has been criticised as lending support to Assad, which they have denied, saying instead that it is a visit of solidarity with the Syrian people.

The group, which arrived in Syria Saturday, are visiting hospitals and refugee camps in Damascus, Homs and Latakia, and also had planned to meet with politicians and religious leaders. They have stressed that the visit is in a personal capacity and that they are paying for it themselves.

The trip comes as France launched its first air strikes on Islamic State group training camps in eastern Syria on Sunday.

The strikes have been welcomed by the Syrian people, Lambert told Europe 1.

"I can tell you that all of the Syrians we met said they were relieved by the fact that France is committed to their side," he said.

Four MPs, including Bapt, made a similar visit earlier this year which sparked criticism from right and left, with former president Nicolas Sarkozy calling them "clowns".

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