0949 GMT July 19, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday faced criticism from European lawmakers as he defended his decision to launch airstrikes on Syria in a joint operation by France, Britain and the United States.
Some lawmakers raised placards reading “Stop the war in Syria” and “Hands off Syria” during Macron’s speech at the Strasbourg-based European Parliament.
Hitting back at those who criticized the absence of a UN mandate for the airstrikes on Saturday in response to a recent suspected chemical attack in the Damascus suburb town of Douma, Macron showed signs of anger.
"(We) are outraged each time by images we've seen of children, women who died of a chlorine attack," he said, almost shouting. "Do we sit back? Do we defend rights by saying: rights are for us, principles are for us, and realities are for other? No! No!"
He said the US, France and Britain intervened in a "legitimate, multilateral framework" and stressed that the airstrikes specifically targeted three Syrian chemical weapon facilities "without any human life loss."
The Western countries rushed to blame the Douma incident on the Syrian government, but Damascus strongly rejected the accusation as fabrications meant to halt the advanced made by pro-government forces against terrorists.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the US, Britain and France have violated international law and hurt peace process in Syria by launching airstrikes.
Russia has condemned the strikes but refrained from responding to the attack.
The Kremlin said on a read-out of the phone call between Putin and Merkel that the prospect for peace talks for Syria were damaged by the airstrikes.
A fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons visited the site of the suspected gas attack in Douma.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday both Putin and Merkel support the OPCW mission and hope for a thorough probe.
UK behind gas attack
On Monday, Russia’s Representative at the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said there are “irrefutable” evidence that the suspected chemical attack was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by British spy services.
“We have not just a ‘high level of confidence,’ as our Western partners uniformly put it; we have irrefutable proof that there was no chemical attack in Douma on April 7,” Shulgin said during a meeting of the organization’s executive council in The Hague.
He described the incident as a “pre-planned false flag attack by the British security services, which could have also been aided by their allies in Washington.”
The Russian official accused Washington of playing “first fiddle” in the Douma incident based on a “pre-written scenario.”
The alleged chemical attack in Douma was staged by “pseudo-humanitarian NGOs,” which are under the patronage of the Syrian government’s foreign adversaries, he added.
Shulgin also stressed that Russian military specialists had found “not a single piece of evidence” substantiating the Western claims about the Douma incident.
AP, RT and Press TV contributed to this story.