April 20 (UPI) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has returned to France the prestigious Légion d’honneur, saying he would not wear the award of a country that was a “slave” to the United States.
The move comes just days after French President Emmanuel Macron began the process of stripping the honor from al-Assad.
France joined the United States and Britain in launching airstrikes at chemical weapons facilities in Syria last week, following the alleged use poison gas in an attack on Douma — the last rebel-held town in the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus.
“It is no honor for President Assad to wear a decoration attributed by a slave country and follower of the United States that supports terrorists,” Syria’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Assad, on the Syrian presidency’s Facebook page, said he was “not honored” to carry a medal for a country “supporting terrorist groups in Syria, and assaulting a United Nations member state in flagrant breach of the most basic norms and principles of international law.”
The award, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits.
Assad was decorated with the highest class of the award, presented to him by former French President Jacques Chirac in 2001 after he took power following the death of his father.