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France Warns Assad Against Chemical Weapons Use


French President Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande has warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that any use of the country's chemical weapons would be "a legitimate reason for direct intervention."
Hollande made the statement during an annual foreign policy speech to French ambassadors.

"We remain vigilant, along with our allies, in order to prevent the use of chemical weapons by the [Syrian] regime, which would be a legitimate cause for direct intervention by the international community," Hollande said.
Hollande also said that France will recognize a provisional Syrian government as soon as it has been formed, urging rebels to establish one as soon as possible.

The United States did not endorse France's call, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland saying: "So that's the first order of business -- for them [the Syrians] to all agree on what a transition ought to look like. Obviously, it's a matter for them to decide if and when they may be prepared to start naming folks."
The French president confirmed that France was working with its partners on the possible establishment of buffer zones in Syria, an idea first floated by Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu first proposed setting up a UN buffer zone inside Syria to shelter refugees, arguing that Turkey cannot cope with more than 100,000 Syrian refugees.
International officials have said that some 200,000 Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, while 2.5 are million in need inside the country.
According to reports, some 7,000 Syrian refugees have massed on the border with Turkey, waiting for more camps to be set up to accommodate those fleeing the fighting in Syria.
Earlier on August 27, a Syrian military helicopter crashed after it was apparently hit during fighting between government forces and rebels in the capital Damascus.
Syrian state-run television acknowledged a helicopter had crashed, but gave no details.
Opposition fighters have claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter.
In another development, opposition activists are accusing government forces of carrying out a new massacre after troops seized the suburb of Daraya near Damascus from rebel control three days ago.
Opposition reports of the death toll have ranged from more than 300 to as many as 600.
Video footage posted by activists showed corpses lined up along the ground, many of them men with gunshot wounds to their heads.
Assad was quoted by official media as vowing that his regime would carry on fighting "whatever the price."
Rights activists say at least 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict since March 2011.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP

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