French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault gives a speech at a high school in central France on September 2, 2013
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) gives a speech in Saint-Jean-de-Braye, central France on September 2, 2013. Ayrault said there would be no vote during Wednesday's parliamentary debate on the Syria crisis, adding that there was no doubt that Damascus was behind a deadly chemical attack. © Jean-Francois Monier - AFP
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault gives a speech at a high school in central France on September 2, 2013
AFP
Last updated: September 2, 2013

French prime minister says no vote in parliament on Syria

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said there would be no vote during Wednesday's parliamentary debate on the Syria crisis, adding that there was no doubt that Damascus was behind a deadly chemical attack.

"The regime of Bashar al-Assad has committed the irredeemable on August 21," Ayrault said on Monday.

The prime minister, who met prominent lawmakers to discuss the crisis, said President Francois Hollande was "continuing efforts to forge a coalition as soon as possible" to punish the Syrian regime for the attack.

But he added that "there is no question that France will act on its own."

"It is up to the president to decide if a vote... should be held," Ayrault said of the emergency parliamentary session. He said there would be no vote on Wednesday as in all probability no coalition would have been formed by then.

The United States and other Western and Arab countries blame the alleged gas attack in the Damascus suburbs on the Assad regime, which itself strenuously denies any responsibility and points an accusing finger at the opposition forces.

Washington says that based on its intelligence, more than 1,400 people were killed in the gruesome incident. France on Monday spoke of "at least 281" deaths.

US President Barack Obama has deferred any military action in Syria, seeking Congressional approval while the British parliament has rejected any intervention there.

The French president can order military action without parliamentary approval but some lawmakers have urged Hollande to put the issue to a vote.

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