In scarcely diplomatic language, the French foreign ministry spokesman said: "The Syrian foreign minister's statements this morning, affirming an initial implementation of the Annan plan by the Damascus regime, are a fresh expression of this blatant and unacceptable lie.
France, where President Nicolas Sarkozy is battling for re-election this month, has led calls for Assad to step aside and has championed the rebel cause for the past year. His early military championing of the Libyan opposition, leading to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, won Sarkozy praise at home and abroad.
A French foreign ministry spokesman claims Syria is implementing "none of the elements" of Annan's plan. He went on to claim that Syria is killing hundreds of people a day at home using heavy weaponry and helicopters to fire on populated areas, "massacring its own people but violating the sovereignty of its neighbours" by firing on Syrian refugees who made their way to Turkey.
These strong words are in light of Syria's continuing aggression at home and possibly also in Turkey, while falsely claiming they are withdrawing in accordance with a recent agreement worked out with international envoy Kofi Annan.
A similar approach with Syria bolstered Sarkozy's popularity at home and abroad, so the thinking behind the move may have both political and human rights elements.