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France says strike on Syria possible by Wednesday

August 30, 2013

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French President Francois Hollande - File Photo/AFP
French President Francois Hollande - File Photo/AFP

PARIS: French President, Francois Hollande, said on Friday that a military strike on Syria could come by Wednesday.

He was of the view that Britain's surprise rejection of armed intervention would not affect his government's stand.

In an interview to the Le Monde daily on Friday, Hollande said that France wanted firm action against the Damascus regime.

The French leader had earlier vowed to “punish” President Bashar al-Assad’s government for an alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21, which killed hundreds.

The president declared that the British Parliament’s withdrawal from the proposed action against Syria would not affect France’s resolve.

“Each country is free to choose whether to take part in such an operation or not. That holds true for Britain and France,” he said.

He ruled out strikes while inspectors from the United Nations were in Syria investigating the alleged chemical attack. They would leave on Saturday, according to UN Chief Ban ki-moon.

The French parliament is due to meet on Wednesday for an emergency Syria session.

In support of his decision, Hollande also said there was a “body of indicators pointing to the responsibility of the Damascus regime.”

He declared that the chemical attack could not go unpunished.

He further stated that he would have a “meaningful exchange” with the president of the United States (US), Barack Obama on Friday.

The US, while reserving the right to act alone, had also stated that it was hoping for an international coalition in Syria.

Hollande, however, ruled out strikes while the UN inspectors were in Syria investigating the alleged attack. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said they were expected to leave Syria by Saturday morning.