France threatens strikes if chem attacks proven

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Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:France will launch strikes if proof emerges that the Syrian regime has used banned chemical weapons against its civilians, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

“We will strike the place where these launches are made or where they are organised,” Macron told the presidential press corps.

“But today our services have not established proof that proscribed chemical weapons have been used,” he added.

“As soon as such proof is established, I will do what I said,” Macron warned, while adding that “the priority is the fight against the terrorists, the jihadists”.

According to Washington, at least six chlorine attacks have been reported since early January in rebel areas, with dozens injured.

The Syrian government in late January denied carrying out chemical weapons attacks and its ally Moscow denounced the charges as a “propaganda campaign”, stressing that the perpetrators had not been identified.

While France, like the United States, suspects the Syrian regime, it says it does not yet have concrete evidence on the nature and origin of the attacks.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday met Syrian opposition negotiators in Jordan for closed-door talks in the wake of a January peace summit hosted by regime backer Russia.

The opposition and Kurdish groups had boycotted the congress, held just days after a ninth round of United Nations-led talks in Vienna failed to yield progress towards ending Syria’s devastating conflict.

And the first aid convoy since November entered the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta Monday, the UN said, after intensive bombardment by the army killed more than 250 civilians last week.

Some 400,000 people live in the enclave outside Damascus where they have been under siege by the army since 2013, facing severe food and medicine shortages.

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