Syria lashes France ‘hysteria’ over call for Assad trial

Published : 25 May 2023 08:04 PM

Syria condemned Wednesday what it called France's "hysteria", a day after Paris' top diplomat said President Bashar al-Assad should be tried over his role in the country's war.

Asked during a television interview on Tuesday if she wanted the Syrian leader to be tried, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said "the answer is yes".

 Her comments came after Assad attended on Friday his first Arab League summit in more than a decade of civil war, crowning his return to the fold after years of regional isolation.

 "We have recently followed the hysteria and isolated and detached positions of French diplomacy, which has lost its senses after the historic decisions of the Arab summit in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when it comes to Syria," the Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement.

 "The backwards French diplomacy must review its positions," the statement said, also accusing France of seeking to "restore the legacy of the colonial era".

 Several Arab capitals cut ties with Assad at the start of Syria's war in 2011, with some supporting the opposition instead.  But states that once bet on Assad's demise have warmed to him as he clung to power and clawed back territory with Iranian and Russian support. Western countries have sanctioned Syria's government and individuals and entities linked to it following Damascus's repression of protesters more than a decade ago.

 A lifting of European Union sanctions on the Syrian regime was "certainly not" planned, Colonna said during her interview.

 Since the Syrian war broke out, more than 500,000 people have been killed, millions have been displaced and much of the country's infrastructure and industry has been devastated.