French President Emmanuel Macron defended French participation in a coalition missile strike on government forces in Syria while addressing the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg (Eastern France).
"We intervened to defend the honor of the international community," Macron declared Tuesday to Members of European Parliament (MEPs), gathered in Strasbourg for a plenary session.
The French military action in Syria, taken in coalition with the United States and the United Kingdom, occurred Saturday morning, in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Douma, near Damas.
"We must defend our values,"said the French head of state, questioned Tuesday by several MEPs during the plenary debate who had concerns about the legitimacy of the strike.
"France has not declared war on the regime of Bachar el-Assad," Macron clarified, restating a televised explanation he offered on Sunday evening, and emphasizing that there were no civilian casualties.
"Let us stay seated, the rules are for us, the laws are for us, and the reality is for others," he noted, adding "The side of law would become that of the weak, and I will not resign myself to that."
Earlier, MEP for the National Front (French extreme right) Nicolas Bay had strongly reproached the French president. "Your recent decision to follow the United States in a unilateral military intervention in Syria will maybe make us miss Jacques Chirac, who at least had the merit to say not to American goings-to-war," he wrote on his Twitter account, making an allusion to the French position in 2003 to not enter into war with Iraq.
French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric, speaking for the United European Left, spoke against the French action in Syria and criticized Emmanuel Macron to have intervened without approval from the United Nations, while he refused to do so in Gaza for Palestinians facing "attacks from Israel."
During the opening of the plenary session on Monday, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani declared that the use of chemical weapons was a red line that could be crossed with impunity. The leaders of the European political groups followed with similar condemnations of chemical weapons use.
The majority of them voiced support for the military strikes in Syria, while others criticized the absence of an international mandate. De-escalation and peace talks including all parties and supervised by the United Nations must begin as soon as possible, they said.