February 14, 2018 / 3:06 PM / 10 days ago

France says Syria red line only crossed if gas attacks 'lethal': minister

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister on Wednesday sought to clarify his government’s position on the use of chemical weapons in Syria saying that Paris would only strike if the attacks were lethal and carried out by government forces.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that “France will strike” if chemical weapons are used against civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of international treaties, but that he had not yet seen proof this was the case.

Macron said last May that the use of chemical weapons would represent a “red line”. In a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed concern over signs that chlorine bombs had been used against civilians in Syria.

“(The president) confirmed that he would proceed to military strikes against regime installations if there was a new use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s forces when these attacks are lethal and regime’s responsibility is proven,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers.

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Michel Rose

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