PARIS A narrow majority of French people would back a U.N.-authorized military intervention in Syria, a poll showed on Friday, a higher percentage than those who had supported the NATO mission that helped oust Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, bolstered by Russian support, is ignoring Western and Arab demands that he end his violent response to 11 months of protests against his rule.
In a survey of 1,200 French people carried out by pollster IFOP for right-leaning information website Atlantico, 51 percent said they would support U.N.-backed military action in Syria.
Fifty-nine percent of opposition Socialist sympathizers would back the initiative, while 56 percent of supporters of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP ruling were in favor.
"One of the reasons is the extent of the clashes and the number of victims which continues to climb in Syria and which as a result is pushing (the country) into a civil war," said IFOP's deputy director for opinion polls Jerome Fouquet.
France has been a leading critic of Assad's military crackdown, but has ruled out a military operation without a U.N. mandate - a remote possibility since Russia and China have already vetoed two watered-down Security Council resolutions.
A similar poll carried out before last year's U.N.-mandated military operation to protect civilians and create a no-fly zone in Libya showed only 36 percent of French favored that action.
Fouquet said the change could be "explained by the success of the allied military intervention in Libya which happened in a relatively short period without any French losses and very little collateral damage as a result of air strikes."
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Alistair Lyon)