France to launch air strikes against Islamic State in Syria
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France is to launch air strikes against the Islamic State armed group (IS) in Syria. President François Hollande on Monday said air strikes would be "necessary" ahead of a debate in parliament Tuesday.
Hollande last week announced that French airplanes would fly reconnaissance flights over Syria, reversing a previous decision that they would only operate over Iraq.
But he did not then specifically say that there would be air strikes, although it was implicit in his statement.
Monday's message was less ambiguous.
""We've started reconnaissance flights to allow us to envisage strikes if necessary, and it will be necessary in Syria," the president said after a meeting with Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari.
Earlier Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian judged that "things have changed".
Syria is IS's main base and can no longer remain a "blind spot" for French policy, he declared.
The French parliament discussed the question on Tuesday afternoon but there was no vote because the decision is constitutionally up to the president.
Nor is there much difference between the major parties on the question.
Most of the mainstream right support air strikes but, like Hollande, oppose sending ground troops.
A minority of both left- and right-wingers, however, favour some rapprochement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to fight the Islamists.
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