France is "determined to take action against the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar Assad, and to dissuade it from doing so again," Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said after hosting lawmakers to discuss the intelligence on Syria. "This act cannot go without a response."
France won't act alone and Hollande was "continuing his work of persuasion to bring together a coalition," Ayrault said. French parliament will debate the Syria issue Wednesday, but no vote is scheduled. The French constitution doesn't require such a vote for Hollande, though he could decide to call for one.
Russia, which along with Iran has been a staunch supporter of Assad through the conflict, brushed aside Western evidence of an alleged Syrian regime role.
"What our American, British and French partners showed us in the past and have showed just recently is absolutely unconvincing," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday before the French report was released. "And when you ask for more detailed proof they say all of this is classified, so we cannot show this to you."
"There was nothing specific there, no geographic coordinates, no names, no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals," he said, without identifying which tests.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to send a delegation of Russian lawmakers to the U.S. to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress. Two top Russian legislators suggested that to Putin, pointing to polls that have shown little support among Americans for armed intervention in Syria.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington received new physical evidence in the form of blood and hair samples that show sarin gas was used in the attack. It wasn't immediately clear whether that evidence had been shared with Russia.
U.N. chemical inspectors toured the stricken areas last week, collecting biological and soil samples. A U.N. statement said the team "worked around the clock" to finalize preparations of the samples, which were shipped Monday afternoon from The Hague and would reach their designated laboratories "within hours," the statement said.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planned to brief the Security Council's 10 non-permanent members on the Syria crisis Tuesday morning. Angela Kane, high representative for disarmament affairs, planned a Tuesday briefing for member states that requested the investigation of alleged chemical weapons use in the Ghouta area outside Damascus on Aug. 21.
The Obama administration has failed to bring together a broad international coalition in support of military action, having so far only secured the support of France.
Britain's Parliament narrowly voted against the country's participation in any military strike last week, despite appeals by Prime Minister David Cameron. The Arab League has stopped short of endorsing a Western strike against Syria.
In an emergency meeting Sunday, the 22-state League urged the United Nations and the international community to take "deterrent" measures under international law to stop the Syrian regime's crimes. Russia or China would likely veto any U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning a Western strike against Syria.
Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow, Frances D'Emilio in Rome, Ryan Lucas and Karin Laub in Beirut, and Jamey Keaten and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.
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