French President Francois Hollande has ordered preparations to begin for air strikes on Islamic State (IS) group positions in Syria, but ruled out sending troops on the ground. Paris had previously refused to join coalition strikes in Syria, and only participates in missions against IS militants in Iraq after Baghdad requested international assistance. More than 220,000 people have been killed and more than nine million displaced in the Syrian war, the UN said.
Speaking at his bi-annual news conference in Paris, Hollande said France would start reconnaissance flights over the war-torn country on Tuesday (8 September) with a view to launching attacks on the jihadists, as part of his country’s response to the crisis.
“We have proof that attacks have been planned from Syria against several countries, notably France,” he said during the live TV press conference. “My responsibility is to ensure that we are informed as much as possible on the threats to our country … so I have asked the defense minister that from tomorrow reconnaissance flights begin over Syria that will enable us to consider air strikes against Isis.”
A US-led coalition carried out 21 air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria over the weekend of 5 September.
Meanwhile, Hollande said France has a duty to take in those fleeing war and persecution, and announced his country would welcome 24,000 refugees over two years as part of an EU-wide plan, which he said “can and will” bring the crisis under control.