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Syria/chemical weapons

Published on August 21, 2013
Statements by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the sidelines of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (excerpts)

Brussels, August 21, 2013

THE MINISTER – We have two sets of reports. The first set of reports, which is certain, is that overnight and this morning Bashar al-Assad’s troops carried out a veritable massacre around Damascus; at any rate, several hundred people are dead. There’s another report that hasn’t yet been verified, which is that huge amounts of chemical weapons were used in those operations. As you know, there’s a UN mission currently in Syria to investigate previous events, so what France is asking – in liaison with the UN, of course – is for that mission, led by Mr Sellström, to be able to investigate on the ground immediately, because if there’s really been a massacre, it was carried out a few hours ago. If that were the case – it demands verification; I’ll talk to you about it more shortly, when I have more information –, it would not only be a massacre but also an unprecedented atrocity. So in liaison with a whole series of contacts, I’m going to try to find out a little bit more, and in the evening I’ll be speaking to the President of the Syrian National Coalition, i.e. the resistance fighters, who has asked to talk to me.

Q. – Is this causing great shock all over the world?

THE MINISTER – Of course, because as you know, chemical weapons are extraordinarily dangerous, and moreover this would relate – I’m saying this in the conditional: we must say things only if they’re verified – to a very large number of people, [including] women and children, and also at the very time when the UN is there. (…)./.

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