West to decide on Syria response in ‘coming days’: France

PARIS - The West will decide in the coming days on a response to the Syria crisis after allegations the Damascus regime used chemical weapons in a deadly attack last week, France's foreign minister said Monday.

Asked on French radio about a possible reaction with "force", Laurent Fabius said a decision had not yet been taken, adding: "We have to assess the reactions... and that will be decided upon in the coming days."

Syria's opposition says more than 1,300 people died when toxic gases were unleashed last Wednesday as regime forces bombarded rebel zones east and southwest of Damascus.

But the Syrian regime has angrily denied being behind the alleged attack, and has warned the United States of "failure" if it decides to attack the war-torn country.

Washington and its Western allies have pointed the finger of blame at Bashar al-Assad's regime, with French President Francois Hollande saying "everything was consistent" with the conclusion that Damascus was behind the alleged attack.

"The options are open. The only option that I do not envisage is to do nothing," Fabius told Europe 1 radio.

He said the existence of a "chemical massacre" had been established and that Assad was responsible. "A reaction is needed, that's where we are now... There is a duty to react," he added.

Recent comments by the White House and a US diplomatic offensive have fuelled speculation that the United States may be getting ready to order limited military action in Syria.

On Monday, UN experts were due to inspect the site of the alleged attack after being given the green light by the Syrian regime.