President Hollande has met the new leader of the opposition Syrian national coalition in Paris and reiterated French political and humanitarian support.
But he did not go so far as to agree to Ahmad al-Jarba’s request for military aid. Military pressure had to be kept up on the Syrian regime, the French president said, but that was up to the coalition and its army.
“We wish to support the coalition in all the contacts it may have, to give it all information it needs to come well prepared to the conference which will finally settle politically the question of Syria’s future,” Hollande said, referring to hopes for a “Geneva II” peace conference on Syria despite widespread doubts that it will happen.
Even though the coalition believes it still does not have enough weapons, its leader described the meeting with Hollande as fruitful: “We talked about humanitarian aid corridors, about political support by France, in Europe, within a United Nations framework,” Ahmad Al-Assi Al-Jarba added.
The head of a UN chemical weapons team has arrived in Syria to investigate claims that chemical arms have been used in the civil war.
Until now the team has been denied full access by Damascus.
Both sides in the conflict deny using chemical weapons.