French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday held a special meeting of the country’s Defence Council which brought together 14 top political military and intelligence experts with a view to launching air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria in conjunction with Britain and the United States. Those present included Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault; Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian; Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius; and Interior Minster Manuel Valls., besides the country’s military chiefs.
Without waiting for the verdict of the U.N. monitor stasked with identifying those responsible for the use of chemical weapons that killed several hundred men women and children near Damascus, France appears to have reached the conclusion that it was President’s Bashar Al-Assad’s forces that used banned chemical weapons.
On Tuesday, in an impassioned speech before the annual gathering of French ambassadors, Mr. Hollande squarely pointed the finger at Mr. Assad, saying, “France is ready to punish those who took the infamous decision to gas innocents. Tomorrow [Wednesday] I shall hold a Defence Council meeting and the Parliament shall be informed of our decisions at the earliest.”
France has had a difficult relationship with Syria for a very long time now and has provided the rebels with very sophisticated arms such as Stinger and surface-to-air Mistral missiles.