European Union foreign ministers on Monday threatened new sanctions against Syria over its alleged chemical attacks, but held off from joining expected new punitive U.S. measures against Russia.
After Britain and France joined the United States in missile salvoes meant to knock out Syrian chemical arms facilities, EU foreign ministers discussed steps to deepen the isolation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The European Union will continue to consider further restrictive measures against Syria as long as the repression continues,” all 28 foreign ministers said in a statement after their talks in Luxembourg, referring to economic sanctions.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his British counterpart Boris Johnson earlier briefed fellow ministers on the air strikes on Saturday.
Le Drian said their endorsement showed European unity, after years of EU divisions over how best to end Syria’s seven-year-old war and whether Assad should be a part of any future government.
Western powers said the strikes were a response to an April 7 poison gas attack on the rebel enclave of Douma and were seen as a way to stop the use of chemical weapons.
“It is very important to stress (the strikes are) not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have a regime change,” Johnson told reporters.
“I’m afraid the Syrian war will go on in its horrible, miserable way. But it was the world saying that we’ve had enough of the use of chemical weapons.”