France launches first air strikes against IS in Syria


France said on Sunday it had launched its first air strikes against self-styled Islamic State militants in Syria, in an effort to stem its growing presence there.

“Our country thus confirms its resolute commitment to fight against the terrorist threat represented by Daesh (Islamic State). We will strike each time that our national security is at stake,” the French Presidency said in a statement.

France, which has so far only taken part in strikes in Iraq, began reconnaissance flights over Syria earlier this month in order to gather information on IS positions.

France said the strikes were conducted using information collected during these reconnaissance flights and had been launched in coordination with its partners.

France also called for a “global solution” to the Syrian crisis, saying it supported United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s initiative to work towards a political transition for the country.

“Civil populations must be protected against all forms of violence, those coming from Daesh and other terrorist groups, but also against the deadly bombings of (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad”, the statement said.

“More than ever it is urgent to set up a political transition that brings together elements from the regime and the moderate opposition.”

France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday that Bashar al-Assad could not play any role in a political transition, because this would not be credible to the Syrian people after so many deaths at the hands of his government.