France has carried out its first air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. The announcement from President Francois Hollande’s office on Sunday came after a year of hesitation. Hollande had resisted the raids in Syria, saying he did not want to strengthen Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who is the target of ISIL fighters.
Hollande announced a change in strategy earlier this month because of growing concern about the Syrian refugee crisis that is putting pressure on Europe – the preferred destination for the asylum seekers.
In Iraq, France has been carrying out the air raids since last year as part of the US-led coalition.
Hollande, heading to the UN General Assembly on Sunday where Syrian crisis was expected to be the key subject of debate, stressed the importance of seeking a political solution for Syria. “More than ever the urgency is putting in place a political transition”, including elements of the opposition and Assad’s regime, Hollande said.