France rallies more support in fight against ISIS

Germany, Britain pledge to contribute more amid complications from Russia-Turkey row

French President Francois Hollande (left) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the end of a press conference in Moscow on Nov 26, 2015.
French President Francois Hollande (left) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the end of a press conference in Moscow on Nov 26, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS • French President Francois Hollande's mustering of support for tougher action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gathered pace yesterday as he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and leaders in Britain and Germany acted to get their lawmakers behind their proposed moves against the militant group.

But the rallying call to act against ISIS has been complicated by the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey on Tuesday, leading to acrimony between two key players in the fight against ISIS.

In Berlin, a senior lawmaker for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives confirmed that Germany will deploy Tornado reconnaisance jets to support France in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Other sources said Germany was considering sending a frigate and refuelling planes as part of the mission.

"Germany will be a more active contributor than it has been until now," Mr Henning Otte, defence expert for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said in a statement after a meeting of lawmakers from the ruling parties yesterday.

This pledge came after Dr Merkel met Mr Hollande in Paris on Wednesday during which she promised to respond quickly to his appeal to Germany to do more to fight the militants in the wake of the Nov 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and for which ISIS claimed responsibility.

The Paris attacks lent weight yesterday to British Prime Minister David Cameron's appeal to Parliament to extend Britain's air strikes against ISIS from Iraq to Syria.

"We shouldn't be content with outsourcing our security to our allies," he told a packed chamber of the House of Commons in London. "If we believe that action can help protect us, then we should be with our allies. If we won't act now, when our friend and ally France has been struck in this way, then our allies in the world can be forgiven for asking: 'If not now, when?'."

Mr Cameron had expressed support for Mr Hollande's decision to strike at ISIS in Syria when the two met in Paris on Monday, adding that Britain should do so too.

But Tuesday's plane incident has complicated Mr Hollande's efforts to rally support for concerted action against ISIS.

Mr Putin in angry remarks yesterday accused Turkey of pushing relations to a dead end as Russia began trade retaliation over the downing of its warplane in Syria.

Turkey has not apologised for its "treacherous stab in the back" or offered compensation after downing the jet, Mr Putin said at a meeting with new ambassadors to Russia.

Separately, the US Embassy in Moscow said yesterday that Russia's decision to deploy an S-400 air defence system to protect aircraft at the base its forces use in Syria's Latakia complicates the situation, adding it hoped this would not target the US-led coalition bombing ISIS in Syria, according to the Interfax news service.

US President Barack Obama has said he will make it a "top priority" to prevent the Turkey-Russia stand-off from worsening.



A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'France rallies more support in fight against ISIS'. Subscribe