Despite UK Vote, France Backs Action in Syria

President of France Francois Hollande (photo: French Foreign Ministry)

President of France Francois HollandeFrance sent a clear signal on Friday that it was preparing strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, with President François Hollande saying the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people cannot go unpunished.

“The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished,” Mr. Hollande said in an interview with French daily Le Monde. . . .

“There are few countries with the capacities to inflict sanctions with the appropriate means,” Mr. Hollande said. “France is among those. It is ready.”

The French President said he would speak about the situation in Syria with U.S. President Barack Obama later Friday. . . .

Mr. Hollande said France could decide to act in Syria, even after Britain decided not to participate in any military strike. . . .

Mr. Hollande ruled out conducting strikes against Syria before United Nations inspectors, who were dispatched to Damascus last week, had left the country. The inspectors, who are investigating whether chemical weapons were used, are expected to leave Syria on Saturday. . . .

In France, Mr. Hollande can engage forces overseas without preliminary parliamentary approval. Still, the government must inform lawmakers within three days after it has intervened in a military conflict overseas.

The government has called for an emergency parliamentary debate on Syria Sept. 4.