Syrian opposition urges strike on Assad,France says western action ‘difficult’

Despite intent,the west would've to intervene without formal sanction.

Written by Express News Service | Paris | Published: August 29, 2013 4:22 pm

The opposition Syrian National Coalition urged Western powers to launch a punitive strike against Bashar al-Assad’s government quickly and offer real military and political support to stop people being “exterminated”.

President Barack Obama has made a case for a limited military strike against Syria in response to last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack,but any action could be slowed by the presence of U.N. weapons inspectors near Damascus and the need to ease divisions in Britain and among U.S. lawmakers.

Syrian National Coalition president Ahmad Jarba told the French daily Le Parisien in an interview published on Thursday he hoped to see a strike and support for the Syrian Free Army.

He said Assad should be tried in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

“Assad’s regime has complete support from Russia,Hezbollah and Iran. We have nothing. Our allies have given us none of what we have asked for. We need real support. If Western states,which profess democratic and humanist values,stay quiet,Assad will deduce that there is no obstacle to him carrying out crimes. Our people risk being exterminated,” Jarba said.

France has said it is ready to punish those behind the chemical attack,but Britain changed its stance on Wednesday,saying the United Nations Security Council should first see the weapons inspectors’ findings and that the British parliament would hold two votes before any military action is taken.

A French warship,the Chevalier Paul,left its dock at the Mediterranean port of Toulon this week,shipping authorities told Reuters on Thursday,though they declined to confirm a media report that the frigate was headed to Syria.

Military sources said France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was still docked in Toulon as of Thursday.

Jarba urged the allies to make a decision.

“If there is intervention,the regime will not survive for long. What’s essential is to take a courageous decision,” Jarba said. “We need our friends. They should not stop at just words.”

The French government in response said that western plans for retaliatory action against Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack are “difficult to develop”.

“The international community must find a riposte that is adapted to the situation,” Najat Vallaud-Belkacem,a Government spokesperson,said on France 2 television.

She said it was “necessary to obtain the adhesion of several allies and partners at the heart of the UN Security Council,which we are trying to do” but added that “states like Russia and China pose a certain number of problems.”

The aim of military action “will not simply be to punish the Syrian regime and prevent it from carrying out a new attack of this type but also to seek a way out of this crisis. It is extremely important for the international community if it intervenes to do so in a manner that the country can recover,” she said.

Her comments came after US President Barack Obama,who had warned that the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad would be crossing a “red line” if it used chemical weapons,said he had not taken a decision on retaliatory strikes yet.

Britain has been pushing for permanent members of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution which would have authorised measures to protect civilians in Syria.

But Russia refused to agree to the resolution and a diplomatic stalemate continues. Syria denies using chemical weapons and has blamed the opposition for the August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb.

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