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Sarkozy ignites furor with push for foreign intervention in Syria

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who spearheaded air strikes in Libya, wants 'rapid' foreign intervention in Syria. Critics say the two conflicts are not remotely comparable.

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This file photo shows Nicolas Sarkozy, France's then-President and conservative candidate for re-election in 2012, as he delivers a speech during a campaign meeting in Sables d'Ollonne, western France.

Michel Euler/AP/File

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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who spearheaded air strikes in Libya that helped topple Muammar Qaddafi, is calling for “rapid” foreign intervention in Syria to “avoid a massacre” – breaking a public silence since his political defeat in May, and pushing President François Hollande to take a more active hand as Syrian fighter jets strafe neighborhoods in Aleppo.

But reaction in France has been hot and roundly critical, with senior officials saying the two crisis points are very different, and that Mr. Sarkozy is being impulsive.

Sarkozy sent French fighter jets to relieve the besieged city of Benghazi in the spring of 2011 to avoid a looming massacre of rebels who wanted Mr. Qaddafi out. A joint statement issued after Sarkozy spoke with members of the opposition Syrian National Council yesterday said, "They agreed that there are great similarities with the Libyan crisis.”

Members of Sarkozy’s party, meanwhile, called for Mr. Hollande to “immediately” end his vacation and get further involved.

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