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Assad threatens France with retaliation if it attacks Syrian forces

Assad threatens France with retaliation if it attacks Syrian forces
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President Bashar al-Assad has threatened retaliation against France, if it takes part in military strikes on his forces.

In an interview with Le Figaro, he said there would be “repercussions” for the French state and on French interests. Assad also warned any Western attack on Syria could push the entire region into chaos and war.

Meanwhile the French prime minister has handed an intelligence report to MPs, which he says proves Assad was behind an alleged chemical attack. The nine-page document was drawn up by France’s military and foreign intelligence services.

Jean-Marc Ayrault said Paris was determined to punish Assad, but not on its own: “There is no question of France acting alone. The President of the Republic is working on persuading and bringing together a coalition as quickly as possible,” Ayrault said.

In the US, Obama has said he will seek approval from Congress before taking military action. Congress is due to reconvene on 9 September. Obama said the operation would be short and strong with the aim of deterring future chemical attacks.

The US has sent its Nimitz aircraft carrier towards Syria in preparation for missile strikes. It already has five destroyers in the Mediterranean.

Turkey has confirmed it is ready to join in any coalition attack against Syrian forces. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said: “We have a mandate from the Turkish parliament to intervene in northern Iraq, and a mandate to intervene in Syria to maintain our country’s security. If deemed necessary, we can get another mandate. There is no doubt that Turkey’s interests are also important.”

Russia remains opposed to any intervention and says evidence produced by the US so far is “not convincing.” It has asked the US to share all of its detailed proof, which at the moment is classified as top secret.