By Hajer M'tiri
France’s Foreign Ministry on Friday called on French media organizations not to send reporters to Syria and urged journalists already there to return immediately given an escalation in violence, particularly in Eastern Ghouta and the Afrin region.
"In respect of an upsurge in violence in Syria, in particular Eastern Ghouta and the Afrin region ... we would be grateful if you would give up any plans to go to this country or to send reporters there," Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll said in an official letter sent to members of the media in France.
"As you know, any trip to Syria is formally discouraged and those French journalists still present in the country are invited to leave immediately," she said.
The French Foreign Ministry's call comes a few hours after French Chief of Staff Gen. Francois Lecointre said that France had the necessary resources to carry out a military intervention in Syria independently or with its American partners.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday his country would be ready to strike if it found “irrefutable evidence” that chemical weapons had been used to kill civilians in Syria.
"The day we, particularly in tandem with our American partners, have irrefutable proof that the red line has been crossed -- namely, [through] the use of chemical weapons to lethal effect -- we will do what the Americans did more than a few months ago now; we would put ourselves in a position to proceed with targeted strikes," Macron said during a visit to India.
Last week, a UN inquiry commission released a report accusing the Syrian regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, an opposition-held suburb of Damascus, through the use of chemical weapons on civilians, causing mass starvation, and preventing medical evacuations.