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01 December 2023

France warns against outside military action in Syria


French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe warned on Monday that any foreign military action in Syria would only aggravate the situation after the Arab League proposed sending in UN-Arab peacekeepers.

"We think that today any external intervention of a military nature would only worsen the situation, all the more given that there will not be a decision by the Security Council, which is the only body able to authorise military intervention," Juppe said in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.

He was answering a journalist's question about the possibility of French peacekeepers being deployed in Syria.

The 22-nation Arab League agreed on Sunday to open contacts with Syria's opposition and ask the United Nations to form a joint peacekeeping force to the nation.

The proposal came a week after Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, backed by Arab and European states, aimed at ending 11 months of bloodshed in Syria.

Juppe said that France would support an Arab League initiative "to ask the General Assembly to get condemnation finally from the United Nations."

"We support this initiative, we're working on it in New York," he said.

Juppe said France's ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, would remain in place despite the United States having closed its embassy and Gulf Arab states having recalled their own envoys.

"We have secured the embassy, because the risk is very high. We have reduced staff: there is now the ambassador and a few colleagues," Juppe said.

"We are very careful not to expose our diplomats, but at the same time the opposition, the Syrians who are fighting barehanded, want us to be there, because it's a contact, a presence," he said.