France launches air strikes in Syria

A handout picture provided by the Defense Audiovisual Communication and Production Unit (ECPAD) on Sept 27, 2015 shows Rafale fighter jets of the French army on the tarmac of a base in The Gulf.
A handout picture provided by the Defense Audiovisual Communication and Production Unit (ECPAD) on Sept 27, 2015 shows Rafale fighter jets of the French army on the tarmac of a base in The Gulf.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS • France said yesterday that it had launched its first air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria, in an effort to stem the terror group's growing presence there.

French President Francois Hollande said six French jets struck an ISIS training camp in Syria, destroying their targets, and warned of more strikes in the coming weeks.

"France struck in Syria this morning an ISIS training camp which threatened the security of our country," Mr Hollande told reporters at the United Nations about the strike on a camp near Deir Ezzor.

"Our country thus confirms its resolute commitment to fight against the terrorist threat represented by Daesh (ISIS). We will strike each time that our national security is at stake," said Mr Hollande in a statement. France, which has so far taken part only in strikes in Iraq, began reconnaissance flights over Syria earlier this month.

France said the strikes made use of information collected during these flights and were launched in coordination with its partners.

Meanwhile, Iraq has said that its military officials are engaged in intelligence and security cooperation with Russia, Iran and Syria to counter the ISIS threat, a pact that could raise concerns in Washington.

A statement from the Iraqi military on Saturday said the cooperation had come "with increased Russian concern about the presence of thousands of terrorists from Russia undertaking criminal acts with ISIS".

The move could give Moscow more sway in the Middle East. It has stepped up its military involvement in Syria in recent weeks while pressing for Damascus to be included in international efforts to fight ISIS, a demand Washington rejects.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'France launches air strikes in Syria'. Print Edition | Subscribe