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France Considering Expanding Anti-ISIL Airstrikes to Syria

© AFP 2021 / PATRICK BAZA French Navy HawEye prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle operating in the Gulf on February 26, 2015
A French Navy HawEye prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle operating in the Gulf on February 26, 2015 - Sputnik International
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French President Francois Hollande discussed the issue of expanding France’s operations as part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State militants on Friday with a defense council, according to media reports.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — France is considering launching airstrikes against the positions of the Islamic State militant group in Syria, local media reported Saturday.

A government soldier with the Syrian flag on a location on top of a hill not far from Kessab on the Turkish border following an Islamist takeover of the town - Sputnik International
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According to Le Monde newspaper, French President Francois Hollande discussed the issue of expanding France’s operations as part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State militants on Friday with a defense council.

France currently only participates in airstrikes in Iraq and supplies arms to the so-called moderate opposition in Syria.

The French position on conducting the airstrikes, according to the newspaper, may be affected by the mass influx of Syrian refugees to Europe, coalition’s failures to curb ISIL advances and possible reinforcement of Russia’s military presence in the region.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was providing serious help and equipment to Syria. Russia is ready to intervene in Syria to fight terror, but discussions of this are premature, the Russian president added.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with the government fighting against many opposition factions and militant groups, such as the Islamic State.

Rebel fighters from the Islamic Front, Syria's largest rebel coalition, hold a position on July 13, 2014 during clashes with militants of the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - Sputnik International
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Many states, including France, do not believe the Syrian government to be legitimate. An international coalition led by the United States has been launching airstrikes against the ISIL positions in Syria without seeking Damascus’ permission to do so, as well as training and arming the opposition in the country.

Russia, on the other hand, believes Syrian President Bashar Assad to be the legitimate government, and has been supporting the country militarily.

The prolonged armed conflict left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead and millions displaced. This year, Europe has been dealing with an unprecedented influx of refugees from Syria and other countries in the region, who are seeking a better life.

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