France launches its first airstrikes against ISIS in Syria

Posted at 11:33 AM, Sep 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-27 11:33:28-04

(CNN) — The French military has carried out its first airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, according to a statement from the office of France’s presidency.

The country had announced earlier this month that it would expand its aerial campaign against ISIS in Iraq — which it began a year ago — to include the militant group’s positions in Syria.

The French president’s office said that the strikes in Syria, which began Sunday, were based on intelligence gathered from air surveillance operations conducted over Syria during the past two weeks.

“Our country confirms its firm commitment to the fight against the terrorist threat Daesh (ISIS). We will strike whenever our national security is at stake,” the statement read.

String of terrorist attacks

France has been the site of a number of terrorist attacks this year.

Islamic extremistskilled 17 people in a quick succession of attacks in Paris in January, including the shooting deaths of staff members in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In June, authorities said a man in southeastern France decapitated his boss, displayed the severed head with Islamist banners and also set off an explosion in a factory. And last month,three American men brought down a suspected terrorist gunman who tried to open fire on a train bound for France.

But France has also linked the refugee crisis Europe is facing in part to ISIS, saying it would strike the group for driving thousands of civilians out of Syria. “We’re not going to receive 4 to 5 million Syrians, so the problem has to be dealt with at source,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Al-Assad blamed for chaos

France also places blame on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has fought a civil war against rebels working to overthrow his autocratic rule and whose forces have also struck civilians.

“Civilians must be protected against all forms of violence. They must be protected against the violence of Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist groups, but also against the deadly bombing of Bashar al-Assad,” the statement from the French presidency read.

France has been in talks with Russia about a political solution in Syria.

“Russia supports the regime of Bashar (al) Assad. But it also wants to find a political solution. And anyway, there will not be any political solution without a dialogue with all of the parties who directly or indirectly are involved with Syria,” Valls said.

France also planned to hold talks about Syria with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.