Macron says US, UK & France to decide on ‘response’ to alleged Syria chem attack in coming days
“We will continue exchanges of technical and strategic information with our partners in particular Britain and America, and in the coming days we will announce our decision,” the French president said Tuesday.
According to Macron, any French attacks on Syria would not target allies of the Syrian government – in an apparent reference to Russian and Iranian forces legitimately present in the country – but would instead target chemical weapons facilities. It is not clear which facilities Macron was referring to, given that it has been confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an international watchdog, that Syria has destroyed all of its chemical arms stockpile.
Macron made his statement accompanied by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was meeting with the French leader on Tuesday in Paris. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has signaled his support for potential military action, saying that those responsible for the alleged attack must be "held accountable." Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir did not say whether Saudi Arabia would join in any actual military attack or not, but told reporters "we are discussing with our allies the steps to respond."
The leaders of the US, UK and France pledged a joint response to the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma following a series of phone conversations, but announced no specific measures.
"They agreed they would continue working closely together and with international partners to ensure that those responsible were held to account,” said a statement from Downing Street, following Theresa May’s conversations with Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron.
May and Trump continued to pin the blame for the April 7 incident, which allegedly affected dozens of civilians, on the Syrian government, with Trump and May condemning President Bashar Assad for "vicious disregard for human life," according to the White House.
The Syrian and Russian governments have dismissed the allegations and said the footage of anti-government activists was staged. US assessments have also been unable to conclusively link the alleged attack with the Syrian government or its allies.
Assad said on Tuesday that his government had invited a mission from an international chemical weapons watchdog to Douma to investigate the alleged attack. The OPCW announced later that day that it was preparing to send a team to Douma on a fact-finding mission.