France says Syria strike possible by Wednesday
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
France's President Francois Hollande speaks during a press conference after a meeting with the President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNC) at the Elysee presidential palace on August 29, 2013 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDFrench President François Hollande said a military strike on Syria could come by Wednesday and that Britain's surprise rejection of armed intervention would not affect his government's stand.
"France wants firm and proportionate action against the Damasacus regime," he said in an interview to Le Monde daily on Friday. The French parliament is due to meet on Wednesday for an emergency Syria session.
Hollande said the British parliament's rebuff would not influence the course of action Paris would take.
"Each country is free to choose whether to take part in such an operation or not. That holds true for Britain and France," he said. The French leader, who had vowed to "punish" President Bashar al-Assad's regime for an alleged chemical weapons strike on August 21, said "there was a body of indicators pointing to the responsibility of the Damascus regime." Hollande however ruled out strikes while the UN inspectors were in Syria. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said they were expected to leave Syria by Saturday morning.
The United States, which had warned that Assad would be crossing a "red line" if chemical weapons were used, said it was still seeking an "interventional coalition" for possible strikes on Syria while reserving the right to act alone.
Germany rules out joining Syria military strike: minister
Meanwhile, Germany's foreign minister ruled out his country's participation in a military strike in Syria after an apparent deadly poison gas attack.
Guido Westerwelle told Saturday's Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that such military action had "neither been asked nor is it being considered by us", according to comments pre-released by the paper.