Target IS with air strikes in Syria, not other groups: Hollande

1st October 2015, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande said Thursday that air strikes in Syria should be aimed at Islamic State jihadists and not other groups, as he prepares to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris.

Hollande said it was essential to ensure that "the strikes, regardless of who is carrying them out, target Daesh (another term for the Islamic State group) and not other groups".

The French leader and his Russian counterpart will meet in Paris on Friday to discuss the Syria crisis before a summit on the Ukraine peace process later in the day.

France and Russia both oppose the IS extremists, but differ on the proposed fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time ally of Moscow who Paris would like to see removed from power as soon as possible.

The first air strikes by Russia in Syria this week targeted areas associated with a range of insurgent and opposition groups, not just IS.

"What has just happened confirms again that firstly we need a political transition that cannot include Bashar al-Assad, secondly that the regime needs to immediately halt its heinous bombardments against civilian populations and thirdly that the strikes, regardless of who is carrying them out, target Daesh and not other groups," Hollande told reporters.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls added: "If you want to fight against terrorism, you should first destroy Daesh sites. And I see that that is unfortunately not the Russian position."

Syria's brutal four-year war has killed more than 240,000 people and displaced millions.

© 2015 AFP

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