Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used Romania’s Embassy in Syria to return the Legion of Honour medal to France. An official of the Syrian Foreign Ministry has handed in the decoration to Romania’s diplomatic representative to Damascus.
The Syrian leader argued on Thursday that he would not wear the award of a “slave” to America, after France joined the air raids of last Saturday over alleged chemical weapons attack.
Assad was decorated with the Legion’s highest rank of Grand Croix, or Great Cross, by former president Jacques Chirac in 2001, shortly after taking power following the death of his father Hafez al-Assad.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that “a disciplinary procedure for withdrawing the Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) is underway”.
Syria’s al-Assad has promptly replied.
“The ministry of foreign affairs… has returned to the French republic… the decoration of the Grand Croix of the Legion d’Honneur awarded to President Assad,” said the Syrian foreign ministry. “It is no honour for President Assad to wear a decoration attributed by a slave country and follower of the United States that supports terrorists,” the statement said, while adding that the award was returned to France via the Romanian embassy in Damascus, which represents French interests in Syria.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Romania is the only country that has maintained its diplomatic mission in Damascus functional, and has granted consular assistance to more Western citizens. Most of the Western states have withdrawn their staff from Syria.