France could act on Syria without Britain, says François Hollande

Friday, August 30, 2013
By Paul Martin

French president says UK parliamentary vote does not affect his support for ‘firm’ punitive action over attack

TheGuardian.com
Friday 30 August 2013

The French president, François Hollande, said a British parliamentary vote against taking military action in Syria would not affect France’s will to act to punish Bashar al-Assad’s government for an apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians.

Hollande told Le Monde in an interview that he still supported taking “firm” punitive action over an attack he said had caused “irreparable” harm to the Syrian people, adding that he would work closely with France’s allies.

Asked if France could take action in US-led strikes without Britain, Hollande replied: “Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France.”

A British parliamentary defeat on Thursday of a government motion on Syria has dealt a setback to US-led efforts to punish Damascus for last week’s apparent poison gas attack.

Hollande is not constrained by the need for parliamentary approval of any move to intervene in Syria and could act, if he chose, before a parliamentary debate on the issue set for Wednesday.

Hollande told Le Monde he would not take any decision to act unless the conditions were there to justify it.

“All the options are on the table. France wants action that is in proportion and firm against the Damascus regime,” he said.

“There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them. We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies.”

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