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No Syria action without UN, says French opposition

The parliamentary leader of France’s conservative opposition UMP said on Wednesday that his party could not support Socialist President François Hollande’s plans for military intervention in Syria without the full backing of the United Nations.

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France’s opposition UMP will not support military intervention in Syria without United Nations backing, the head of the conservative party’s parliamentary group said at the beginning of a debate in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

While condemning Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons as “barbarian, savage and inhuman”, Christian Jacob said France’s Socialist government had dug itself into a “diplomatic and military impasse”.

Pressing for a parliamentary vote, Jacob asked: "Where are our allies? Where is the UN Security Council resolution?

"There are a number of troubling similarities with Iraq. Nothing justifies such a radical change in our military and political diplomacy."

Assembly will not vote

Wednesday’s debate will not result in a vote – under the French constitution, President François Hollande does not need approval for action, although he is increasingly coming under pressure from the opposition to hold one.

Last week, British lawmakers rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to win parliamentary backing for military strikes, leaving France as the only major military power lining up behind US President Barack Obama, who is seeking Congress's backing for acting.

“Can France seriously, without a single European ally, launch itself blindly into an adventure like this?” Jacob asked assembled lawmakers. “France is more isolated than ever, dependent as a spectator on the results of a congressional vote on September 9 in Washington.”

Not acting ‘would encourage atrocities'

Opening the debate, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault made an impassioned plea for cross-party support for intervention, arguing that a lack of international action to the chemical attack in Syria would risk sending Iran the wrong message over its nuclear programme.

"To not act would be to put the peace and security in the entire region in danger. What credibility would our international commitments against non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, stand for?" he asked.

"What message would this send to other regimes, and I am thinking like you of Iran and North Korea? The message would be clear: You can continue."

"Not reacting would allow Bashar al-Assad to continue with his atrocities, encourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and leave Syria and the region to fall into chaos."

"Our message is clear: the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. We want to punish that and show Assad that he has no other solution but to negotiate."

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