Following Washington and London’s lead, French President Francois Hollande said he would wait for a parliamentary vote before committing France to a military attack on Syria.
The announcement comes as NATO countries reconsider whether to take military action against the Syrian government over a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people in Damascus, amid growing public opposition to a US-led military intervention.
Paris backed off immediate military action against Syria after MPs in the UK House of Commons defeated Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal that British forces take part in military action over the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad’s government. The war vote – the first lost by a British prime minister since 1782 – was followed by US President Barack Obama saying Saturday that he would wait until he receives authorization from the US Congress before taking military action on Syria.
Surprisingly, given France’s past hesitation to join in military adventures, Hollande has been the most vocal supporter of a US military operation, which Obama said would not include “boots on the ground.”
The French president, unlike the British prime minister, does not require permission from the country’s parliament, the National Assembly, to order military action.
Hollande’s Socialist government was quick to jump on the anti-Assad bandwagon, accusing the Syrian leader of carrying out the attack, with his foreign minister saying that information pointed to Syrian government forces being behind what it called a “chemical massacre.”
“All the information at our disposal converges to indicate that there was a chemical massacre near Damascus and that the Bashar regime is responsible,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on August 24.