France said on Sunday it had launched air strikes against an Islamic State group training camp in eastern Syria in an effort to stem its growing presence there.
“France struck in Syria this morning an Islamic State training camp which threatened the security of our country,” Hollande told reporters at the United Nations, about the strike on a camp near Deir al-Zor.
The strikes were announced on the eve of the UN General Assembly in New York where Syria is back in the diplomatic limelight after four years of grinding war that has sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe.
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 Islamic State group positions.
Syria "on everyone's lips" at UN gathering
Paris has explained its change in strategy by saying it was acting in self-defence. The country has been on high alert since Islamic extremists gunned down 17 people, including cartoonists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in a three-day killing spree in Paris in January.
"What we want is to know what is being prepared against us and what is being done against the Syrian population," President François Hollande said when he announced France's intention to carry out strikes.
However he ruled out sending French ground forces into Syria, saying it would be "unrealistic."
Calls for a 'political transition'
France also called for a "global solution" to the Syrian crisis, saying it supported U.N. 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.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)
Date created : 2015-09-27