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Our World

August 30, 2013

U.S., France prepare for potential military strike against Syrian government

(Continued)

DAMASCUS, Syria —

"This is proof that most of the public realized the extent of this political game that is led by America for the interests of Israel," said Syrian lawmaker Fayez Sayegh.

Hollande said France is among the few nations capable of "inflicting a sanction by the appropriate means" and "it is ready." A decision will be made in close coordination with allies, he said.

France has historic ties to Syria, having once ruled the country; it also has warplanes and strategic interest in the region. Paris has embraced the Syrian opposition and urged a firm response against Assad over the purported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.

French military analysts say France's most likely role would be from the air, including use of Scalp cruise missiles that have a range of about 500 kilometers (300 miles), fired from Mirage and Rafale fighter jets. French fighters could likely fly directly from mainland France — much as they did at the start of a military campaign against Islamic radicals in Mali earlier this year — with support from refueling aircraft. France also has six Rafale jets at Al Dhafra air base, near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf, and seven Mirage-2000 jets at an air base in Djibouti, on the Red Sea.

Hollande reiterated that any action is aimed at punishing Assad, not toppling him.

"I won't talk of war, but of a sanction for a monstrous violation of the human person," he said. "It will have a dissuasive value."

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