Paris and its allies are prepared to react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, speaking to French lawmakers on Wednesday.
"France is prepared to react firmly together with its allies in the event of the proven use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime," Le Drian said.
Noting that "the situation in Idlib is extremely serious," the foreign minister said that "we are at the beginning of a humanitarian catastrophe."
Le Drian noted that the possibility of "war crimes cannot be excluded … once one begins to indiscriminately bomb civilian populations and hospitals."
The French foreign minister also suggested that "the worst can be avoided" if Damascus were to "show responsibility," adding that "France recognizes only a political solution."
Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation warned that it had intelligence indicating that the Tanzim Hurras ad-Din* terrorist group, in coordination with the White Helmets, was preparing to use chemical weapons against children, tape the incident and blame Damascus for the crime.
Also on Wednesday, Alexander Shulgin, Russia's permanent representative to the OPCW, called on the organization to not allow provocations involving the use of chemical weapons in Idlib.
The situation in Idlib, the armed opposition's last bastion in Syria, has been the site of international tensions in recent weeks amid regular warnings by Washington and its allies urging the Syrian Army not to launch a large-scale operation to liberate the province. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing its own sources, that the Pentagon could not rule out strikes against Russian positions in Syria, nor those of Iranian advisors assisting Damascus in its campaign against the terrorists.
*An al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist terrorist group outlawed in Russia.
** Aka al-Qaeda in Syria; also outlawed in Russia.