US, France vow "joint response" over next Syria chemical attack

US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agree on the need for a "joint response" in the event of another chemical attack in Syria, says the French presidency.

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

The pledge came after US said the Syrian regime may be preparing another chemical weapons attack.

US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed during a telephone call on Tuesday on the need for a "joint response" in the event of another chemical attack in Syria, the French presidency said.

Their call came a day after Washington said that the Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad may be preparing another chemical weapons attack and warned that his regime would pay a "heavy price" if it went ahead with such an assault.

The French foreign ministry refused to say whether it had information about possible preparations by the Syrian regime for a chemical attack.

A Pentagon spokesman said that the US intelligence had noticed suspect activity at the launch site of the regime's apparent chemical strike in April.

"Clear red line"

Days after that strike on a rebel-held town, the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the airfield in retaliation - the first direct US attack on the Syrian regime.

After a meeting last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an Assad ally, Macron drew a "very clear red line" on the use of chemical weapons "by whomever" and warned of reprisals.

In August 2013, a chemical attack near Damascus brought France and the US to the brink of a joint military intervention in Syria.

But then US president Barack Obama, who had also declared that a chemical attack would cross a "red line", eventually decided against military action. 

The US and Russia instead struck a deal on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.