France announces first air strikes on ISIS in Syria

This handout picture released on Sept 8, 2015 by French Defense Audiovisual Communication and Production Unit shows a French army Rafale fighter taking off from a base in the Gulf as it embarks for Syria on an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaiss
This handout picture released on Sept 8, 2015 by French Defense Audiovisual Communication and Production Unit shows a French army Rafale fighter taking off from a base in the Gulf as it embarks for Syria on an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - France announced its first air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria on Sunday (Sept 27), following its decision to expand its bombing campaign against the militants from neighbouring Iraq.

The President's office said the strikes hit targets identified during reconnaissance missions conducted over the past fortnight.

The operation to "fight the terrorist threat" of ISIS was coordinated with regional partners, a brief statement said.

"We will strike any time our national security is at stake," it added.

In an announcement early this month, France cited legitimate defence as its rationale for planning the strikes, while ruling out ground operations.

French planes are already involved in air strikes against the militants in neighbouring Iraq.

Sunday's statement called for a "comprehensive response (to the) Syrian chaos", saying: "Civilian populations must be protected against all forms of violence, that of Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist groups, but also against the murderous bombings of (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad."