French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that France would take a very strong position in the face of any threat of Syrian chemical weapons use, but said such reports needed to be checked out first.
Reports that Syria had moved stocks of chemical arms in recent days “have not been verified or confirmed,” Fabius told presspersons yesterday after talks with his NATO counterparts.
If there was confirmation of a Syrian chemical weapons threat “that would demand an immediate reaction from the international community,” Fabius said.
“France has a very strong position, as do other countries” in NATO, he said just after the alliance agreed to Turkey’s request to deploy Patriot missiles along its volatile border with Syria.
A US official told AFP on Monday that Syria had begun mixing chemicals that could be used to make sarin, a deadly nerve agent, while CNN reported Damascus could use the gas in a limited artillery attack on advancing rebels.
Washington fears that battlefield advances by rebels could prompt Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use chemical arms, or that stocks could find their way into the hands of groups hostile to the US and its allies.
Fabius said the reports “are perhaps to be seen in the light of the fact that the forces of the Assad regime are losing ground. There could be a danger that the regime, feeling it is in danger, could think possibly” of using chemical arms.