French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday night that France had joined the US and Britain in an ongoing operation of strikes to target “the capacities of the Syrian regime to produce and use chemical weapons.”
“We cannot tolerate the normalization of the use of chemical weapons,” he said in a statement issued shortly after huge explosions were heard in Syria’s capital early Saturday followed by the sound of airplanes overhead.
For Macron, “the facts and the responsibility of the Syrian regime are not in doubt,” concerning the “deaths of dozens of men, women and children” in what he said was a chemical weapons attack on April 7 in Douma.
“The red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed,” he said.
“I have ordered the French army to intervene tonight as part of the international operation in coalition with the US and Britain directed against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime,” he said.
US President Donald Trump announced late Friday that a joint US-British-French operation had been launched on Syria, targeting the “criminal” regime of Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.
Syria’s capital was rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke. Associated Press reporters in Damascus saw smoke rising from east Damascus.
Syrian state TV said the attack had begun on the capital, though it wasn’t immediately clear what was targeted. It also said Syrian air defenses had responded to the US-British-French attack.