France begins first surveillance flights against ISIS

France’s foreign minister says air missions are preparation for actual strikes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Laurent Fabius announces France has carried out reconnaissance flights in Syria.

France launched its first reconnaissance flights over Syria on Tuesday in order to prepare for possible strikes on ISIS militants, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has announced.

"These surveillance flights will determine what action can be taken when the time comes," Fabius told reporters.

The French Army reported two Rafale fighter jets had taken off from a base in the Persian Gulf and turned back as planned.

The flights come the day after President Francois Hollande shifted his country's plan of action on Syria, saying he will first order surveillance flights before launching air strikes on ISIS positions to find out "what is being prepared against us and what is being done against the Syrian population."

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, as well as NATO and the EU.

The group has targeted France several times this year, however, Hollande believes the main goal should be to find a political solution for the conflict in Syria.

Normally France was meant to join air strikes against the Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad in 2013, until US President Barack Obama unexpectedly discarded the plan.

The four year long Syrian civil war has left over 240,000 Syrians dead, according to the UN. Millions have been displaced internally while more than 5 million have fled to neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. Turkey has taken the major burden as it shelters 1.8 million Syrian refugees.

France has also announced plans to welcome 24,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East in the upcoming years.

TRTWorld and agencies