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'Political solution' needed in Syria: French minister

AFP/The Local · 6 May 2013, 09:15

Published: 06 May 2013 09:15 GMT+02:00

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France called for a "political solution" to the conflict in Syria after the country's regime was suspected of using chemical weapons following two Israeli raids on the country.  

Israeli raids on Sunday hit three military sites outside Damascus, the second such reported attack in 48 hours, reportedly targeting weapons bound for Lebanese group Hezbollah which is an ally of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The Syrian government warned that the regional situation was "more dangerous" following the raid as fears grew of a spillover of the conflict.

"The situation in Syria is a real tragedy," Fabius told a press conference, adding that if it continued, it could be a "human and political disaster".

"We must try and achieve a political solution, that is the aim," Fabius said, urging the opposition Syrian National Coalition to "insist" on a political solution to the conflict and to form "a transitional government".

Fabius also said the Israeli air strikes could risk creating conflict in the region.

"Obviously it's something that one can understand, but at the same time, it's a risk," he said of the raids. "If the conflict extends to neighbouring countries, it would be a turning point in its nature."

On Sunday British foreign minister William Hague said the Israeli air strikes showed that peace in the region was under threat, and reinforced the need to lift an arms embargo on Syrian rebels.

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On chemical weapons, Fabius said the United States, Britain, France and Canada have "hints" that they were used by the Syrian regime, and would further investigate whether there was proof.

"Many of us have said that if it was demonstrated that there has been use of chemical weapons it's a game-changer," Fabius said.

US President Barack Obama has refused to rule out any options, but has said he did not foresee deploying US troops if Assad's regime is proved to have used chemical weapons.

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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