French PM urges 'Yes' vote on Syria war

French PM urges 'Yes' vote on Syria war
Thu Sep 5, 2013 11:19:25

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has urged lawmakers to back military action against the Syria.

The debate came as Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Muqdad ridiculed France as an American stooge.

"It's shameful that the French president... says 'if Congress approves, I go to war, otherwise I won't go', as if the French government had no say in the matter," Muqdad said earlier.

Opening a fiery debate on France's reaction to the alleged deadly gas attack, Ayrault claimed it was "undeniable" that the Syria had used chemical weapons in Damascus suburb.

"To not react would put peace and security in the entire region in danger," Ayrault claimed.

He also claimed that not reacting militarily would "close the door on a political solution" to the conflict.

President Francois Hollande's Socialists, who enjoy a majority in the National Assembly, are largely supportive of strikes. But other leading parliamentary factions voiced opposition, including the main opposition right-wing UMP.

The UMP said it would not support military action without the backing of the United Nations.

Amid widespread skepticism in France over military strikes, the government has launched a major effort to bolster support.

Ayrault said there was "no question" of France putting troops on the ground in Syria but that some form of military reaction was essential.

Many French lawmakers, including some Socialists, are clamoring for a full vote on military action. A poll on the eve of the debate also showed nearly three quarters of the French wanting parliament to have a say.

The divisions in France over action in Syria are in sharp contrast to the widespread support Hollande enjoyed when he launched a military intervention in Mali earlier this year.

The Mali intervention was widely backed by the public however, unlike a military intervention in Syria, which a recent poll showed is opposed by 64 percent of the French.


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