Germany, France say they cannot idly stand by over use of chemical weapons in Syria

Top French and German officials on Wednesday warned they would react to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, the same day a UN report confirmed three chlorine gas attacks in Syria this year
author_image Nadia Riva

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Top French and German officials on Wednesday warned they would react to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, the same day a UN report confirmed three chlorine gas attacks in Syria this year.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hinted at the possibility of military intervention to prevent the use of chemical weapons as tensions over Idlib, the last rebel-held bastion in Syria, ramp up.

The US, the UN, and European nations have been calling on the Syrian government to refrain from launching a large-scale attack on the province of Idlib, where 3 million civilians could face displacement. According to the UN, the use of chemical weapons in the northwestern opposition-held area would likely lead to a “massacre” in the final battle for Idlib, Reuters reported.

It was confirmed by UN investigators on Wednesday that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had used chlorine, a banned chemical weapon, on three separate occasions in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma and also Idlib.

In response, Germany’s von der Leyen noted a “credible deterrent” might be needed to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria. As quoted on Russian news outlet, Sputnik, France’s top diplomat, Le Drian, said, “France is prepared to react firmly together with its allies in the event of the proven use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.”

“The situation in Idlib is extremely serious. We are at the beginning of a humanitarian catastrophe,” argued Le Drian.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed those statements, saying Germany could “not simply look away” if chemical weapons are used in Syria.

Germany did not participate in military strikes on Syria, unlike the US, France, and the UK, which targeted launch sites after the regime’s chemical attacks in April. Merkel, however, asserted Germany could no longer reject military intervention, saying, “It cannot be the German position to simply say ‘No,’ no matter what happens in the world.”

The German government also announced it was in talks with the US and its other allies over a possible military intervention over Idlib. The UN this week warned that 30,000 people had already fled the area due to persistent Russian and Syrian bombardment.

The Syrian government and its ally, Russia, were accused of attempting to cover up the use of chemical weapons in April.

Editing by John J. Catherine