France Begins Syria Surveillance Flights Ahead of Possible AirstrikesSeptember 18, 2015 in France, Iraq, ISIS, Islamic State, Syria
Last week, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that France had carried out its first surveillance flights over Syria in order to prepare for possible airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) group extremists.
Speaking to reporters, Fabius stated that “these surveillance flights will determine what action can be taken when the time comes.” A French military source, the reconnaissance flights were carried out by two of France’s Rafale fighter jets, which are equipped with photo and video cameras. The source disclosed that the “two Rafales left the Persian Gulf this morning (Tuesday 9 September) and have just returned.”
The surveillance flights follow President Francois Hollande’s announcement last Monday that France would soon begin surveillance flights over Syria. During a press conference, he stated that the intelligence gathered from these flights would then be used in order to determine if France would go ahead with airstrikes against IS group targets in the Middle Eastern country. The French President noted that he wanted to find out “what is being prepared against us and what is being done against the Syrian population.”
This move represents a major shift within France’s strategy in Syria as while the country is part of a coalition of nations that have been carrying out airstrikes against the extremist group in neighbouring Iraq, Paris has so far not commented on extending its bombing mission to Syria.
While President Hollande noted that the fight against terrorism needs to be carried out both at home and in places where it is entrenched, he ruled out deploying ground forces to Syria, stating that such a move would be “ineffective and unrealistic.”