France says to decide on Syria strikes in coming days

Macron and Verhofstadt

Macron and Verhofstadt

In the meantime, US President Donald Trump, who said on Wednesday that missiles were "coming", on Thursday tweeted that he "never said when".

Speaking on TF1 television, Mr Macron said "we have proof that chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine" in recent days by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

MSNBC also reported United States officials had obtained blood and urine samples from victims of the alleged chemical attack in Syria last weekend and the samples tested positive for chemicals, mainly for chlorine and some for a nerve agent.

When asked whether those would be the targets of French strikes he said he'd see about that. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and Mr Trump's national security team met on Wednesday after the president warned Russian Federation to expect a missile strike on Syria, tweeting missiles "will be coming".

A team from the world's chemical arms watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was expected to arrive in Syria on Thursday and Friday begin a fact-finding mission in Douma.

Last year, despite protests, the government used a special, accelerated procedure to push a labor bill through parliament that many feel weakened France's famed worker protections.

Despite rising threats of war, Macron stressed the necessity to avoid "an escalation" in the region, which has already suffered long and bloody civil wars that have forced millions to displace and seek refuge in Europe. "I suspect that the Americans and French have forced themselves into action and will still move militarily but the growing awareness of the difficulty of the situation is clearly injecting real caution into the mix", he added.

Asked to comment on possible USA strikes, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said that "it's necessary to avoid any steps that may fuel tensions in Syria". Back then the Syrian opposition claimed that about 80 people were killed and about 200 more injured in a chemical weapons attack in Idlib province. The Syrian government has denied the allegations and called the reports fake news that the West uses to justify attacking the country.

Douma was the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus. His critics say he is favoring the rich and eroding workers' hard-won labor rights with moves that risk increasing wealth disparity.

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