France not to act alone on Syria: minister
Updated: 2013-09-02 06:58
PARIS - France will not launch a military operation alone against Syria and will await the U.S. Congress's decision, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday.
Speaking to the local broadcaster Europe1, the minister said Paris officials "need a coalition" and "cannot go alone," after U.S. President Barack Obama postponed an imminent attack and decided to consult the Congress and the British parliament blocked the involvement in any Western coalition's use of force against Syrian authorities.
Obama's announcement had created "a new situation" which meant France would have to wait "for the end of this new phase," the minister added.
"We now have time and this time must be used to make things happen... Using chemical gas against population is a crime against humanity and the worst would be to do nothing," Valls stressed.
During a phone talk, President Francois Hollande and Obama on Saturday reaffirmed their determination to punish the perpetrators of the alleged deadly chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.
In a statement, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he would head a meeting with presidents of the two houses of parliament and the conservative opposition on Monday to discuss the Syrian issue before a parliamentary debate on eventual intervention scheduled for Wednesday.
A recent BVA poll showed a majority of French people oppose a military action against Syria and most expressed doubt about Hollande's ability to conduct the intervention.