While Western nations have been reluctant to commit military forces as the Syrian conflict continues to escalate, recent conversations indicate a potential move towards intervention. Latest calls for a military response come in the wake of alleged chemical attacks in rebel territory within an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus.
Doctors Without Borders and anti-regime activists estimate upwards of 300 deaths in the bombardments last week, which may have involved heavy amounts of toxic gas. Reuters has noted at least 14 reports to the U.N. of chemical attacks.
The Syrian government has agreed to allow U.N. investigators already inside the borders inspect the areas affected by the attacks.
French response to the strike was swift, with the government warning of “consequences” for the Assad regime. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius informed Europe 1 Radio that France would make a “proportionate response” to the supposed chemical strikes.
“It will be negotiated in coming days,” Fabius continued in the same interview, admitting that a proactive response will be difficult without sanctioning by the United Nations. “All the options are open. The only option that I can’t imagine would be doing nothing.”
Fabius and French President François Hollande have both blamed the Syrian government directly for the attack. Hollande stated that France stands “ready to punish” the perpetrators of the “chemical massacre,” pledging greater military aid for the Syrian opposition. He gave notice for a defense council meeting yesterday.
He further asserted that the French “responsibility to protect civilians” could potentially supersede international laws, which “must evolve with the times.”
While the French government is determined to move ahead regarding a Syrian response, it appears that Germany is treading more cautiously. In a press conference, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle indicated that Germany would seek “clarification” before ”speaking of consequences.”
A western diplomat has stated that across the Atlantic, the United States is willing to move quickly with a response.
Hollande has announced that British Parliament will convene Thursday in order to vote on their own intervention in Syria. He has also recently implied that he would support “targeted military intervention” in Syria as soon as this week.
“A reaction is needed, that’s where we are now….There is a duty to react,” he said.
The latest development is a Security Council meeting called for by Hollande following a conference with the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). According to the French president, “Everything should be done to reach a political solution,” but should that fail, “an alternative with the necessary force” will be planned and exercised.
SNC leader George Sabra called for support against the Assad regime, railing against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who “massacred our people” in the August 21 attacks. “He must not escape the punishment he deserves,” Sabra added.