Assad’s crimes "cannot remain unpunished", say leaders

Syria – American strikes – Statement to the press by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Annonay, 7 April 2017

Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons. It’s not the first time: in August 2013 he had already gassed his people. I then called for there to be a response and for an operation to be conducted with the United States.

Chemical weapons have now been used again. After informing us, the Americans decided to strike a number of installations in Syria. I believe this operation was a response. It must now be continued at international level in the United Nations framework, if that is possible, so that we can carry through the sanctions against Bashar al-Assad and prevent chemical weapons being used again and the regime crushing its own people again.

Because of this tragedy, because of this situation, there’s a possibility today of opening negotiations and enabling a political transition in Syria. This is why, with its partners – particularly its European ones, and I’ve spoken to Chancellor Merkel –, France is going to take every initiative so we can relaunch the political transition process in Syria.

I’ll be convening a meeting of the Defence Council this evening at 7.00 p.m. to see how France can build on this initiative.

Thank you./.

Syria – American strikes – Joint communiqué issued by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, and Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Paris, 7 April 2017

The President and the German Chancellor spoke on the telephone this morning about the situation in Syria.

In the wake of the chemical massacre perpetrated in Khan Sheikhoun, north-east Syria, on 4 April, a military installation of the Syrian regime used for chemical bombing was destroyed overnight by American strikes. We were informed of this beforehand.

Assad is wholly responsible for this development. Indeed, his continued recourse to chemical weapons and mass crimes cannot remain unpunished. This is what France demanded in the summer of 2013 the day after the Ghouta chemical attack.

France and Germany will therefore continue their efforts with their partners in the United Nations framework to punish in the most appropriate way criminal acts linked to the use of chemical weapons banned by all the treaties.

We call on the international community to come together to support a political transition in Syria, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué./.

Syria – American strikes – Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France Info

Paris, 7 April 2017

The Americans have provided the beginnings of a clarification. In recent days we’ve been hearing conflicting arguments. Here we have an act which is a sort of condemnation.

Previously, the impression we got was that the Americans had one priority, namely the fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL] – and we too have that priority –, but forgetting the necessary political transition in Syria.

A signal has been sent here, and I’ll have the opportunity, as I said yesterday evening to my American counterpart, Mr Rex Tillerson, to continue the discussions with him. The Russians and Iranians must now understand that there’s no point in supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime as they’re doing, alone and disgracefully.

It’s time to return to what was decided with them – in particular the Russians at the Security Council –, namely the foundations of the political transition, which must involve the Geneva negotiations, and they must be in-depth, sincere and effective negotiations and not just for show./.

Syria – Sending of humanitarian assistance to the victims of the attack in Khan Sheikhoun – Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson

Paris, 6 April 2017

Following the chemical attack on 4 April 2017 carried out by the Syrian regime in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, wanted to send emergency humanitarian assistance to the victims of this attack and to the health workers treating them.

Almost 500 kilos of emergency medicines to combat the effects of chemical weapons, as well as full protective equipment will be sent via Turkey and distributed by an NGO, the Union des Organisations de Secours et Soins Médicaux (UOSSM).

The resources were put together by the Ministry’s crisis and support centre, with the contribution of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior.

France strongly condemned the attack on 4 April, which constitutes another unacceptable violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and further evidence of the barbarity suffered by the Syrian people for so many years. It calls for a unanimous response from the international community to such practices./.

Syria – Chemical attack – Statement to the press by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Noyon, 5 April 2017

Q. – A short question on Syria. You spoke this morning of a war crime. What response are you calling for now?

THE PRESIDENT – Dropping gas canisters on people, children, isn’t an act of war that can be accepted, it’s a war crime. We’re looking at repeated war crimes, because, if you remember, Bashar al-Assad’s regime had already gassed part of the population in 2013 and used a weapon that is banned by international laws.

So what France has demanded is for there to be a Security Council resolution in the coming hours in order to conduct an investigation. Following that investigation, sanctions will have to be taken against the Syrian regime, because we’ve been condemning that regime for a long time, and those who are indulgent towards that regime today must also be held accountable. I’m talking firstly about the accomplices, i.e. those intervening in Syria and ensuring that Bashar al-Assad’s planes can proceed to drop gas canisters. But I’m also thinking of political leaders, including in France, who are supporters not merely of a political solution – we all want one – and not merely of negotiations – we’d like them – but who show themselves to be supporters of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and are indulgent towards Bashar al-Assad. Those people must know today that they’re accomplices to a war crime./.

Syria – Chemical attack – Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

Paris, 4 April 2017

Another particularly serious chemical attack targeted the province of Idlib this morning. Initial reports indicate that there is a very large number of casualties, including children.

I strongly condemn this appalling act.

The use of chemical weapons constitutes an unacceptable violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and further evidence of the barbarity suffered by the Syrian people for so many years.

France has, since the start of the conflict, worked ceaselessly to ensure that the international community sheds full light on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, identifies the perpetrators and draws the necessary conclusions in order to put an end to it. It has consistently lent its support to the investigation and attribution mechanisms of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations. Just recently, it took the initiative of tabling a resolution on sanctioning the perpetrators of these attacks, which was vetoed.

In the face of such serious crimes, which undermine international security, I call on everyone to shoulder their responsibilities.

With this in mind, I have requested that an emergency UN Security Council meeting be convened./.

Published on 18/04/2017

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