French President Francois Hollande stepped up pressure on Syria Monday, saying France would recognise a provisional government and warning of a foreign intervention if the regime uses chemical weapons.
In a speech to French diplomats, Hollande called for an "intensification of efforts for the political transition to take place quickly" and urged the Syrian opposition to form a "provisional, inclusive and representative" government.
"France will recognise the provisional government of the new Syria as soon as it is formed," he said.
Washington, however, reacted that before setting up a government the Syrian opposition first needed to coordinate with citizens inside and outside the country and set a democratic path.
Hollande was on the same page with the United States and Britain when he warned the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that using chemical weapons would be a legitimate reason for a foreign intervention.
Deraya (Anadolu Agency)
In what is unfolding as one of the deadliest and most focused short-term assaults by the Syrian military since the uprising started nearly 18 months ago, witnesses and activist groups say hundreds have been killed in Daraya in the past week alone. Residents described how the Syrian Army first closed off the city, keeping civilians from fleeing, then methodically began a campaign of heavy shelling and house-to-house searches ending with executions.
The death toll, rising all week, grew again on Sunday. A day after two activist networks, the Local Coordination Committees and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that more than 200 bodies had been found in the town, activists said another 15 bodies were discovered in the basement of a home in the area. That put the death toll for the week at more than 630 in the city, said the Local Coordination Committees, including nearly 300 people reported executed.
“Daraya, a city of dignity, has paid a heavy price for demanding freedom,” the group said in a statement, adding: “The death toll has doubled in the past few days due to field executions and revenge killings.”
Daraya, a city of several hundred thousand, has been reported as a mainstay of opposition support within the capital area since the start of the uprising. Its location is also critical: it abuts the Mezze military airport, a major base for Syrian forces. There are farms on the fringe of town, and small furniture factories dominate the city center.
When the government assault started, activists said that rebels had established a large armory inside the city. They said it had been rumored to hold missiles, a detail that could not be confirmed, perhaps to target helicopters at the Mezze airport.
The government operation began early last week. Troops first surrounded Daraya and set up checkpoints, blocking food and other supplies from entering, residents said. Electricity was cut, then Internet and phone service.