PARIS, Sept. 7 (UPI) — French President Francois Hollande announced Monday he ordered preparations to begin for airstrikes on Islamic State militants, joining the United States in the ongoing effort to quash the extremist group in Syria.
As Hollande grapples with the flood of migrants from the Middle East and the ongoing threat of terrorism, he said reconnaissance flights will begin over Syria on Tuesday to help plan the strikes. He said several factors, including the foiled terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in August and the flood of migrants trying to escape the extremist group, has driven his decision.
“The fight against terrorism needs to be carried out at home, but also in the places where it is entrenched,” Hollande said.
Hollande said he has ruled out ground operations in Iraq and Syria as “ineffective and unrealistic,” squarely blaming Syrian leader Bashar Assad as responsible for impeding peace in the country.
“He is responsible for the current situation in Syria,” Hollande said of Assad. “A political transition must be a part of the Syrian solution. We can imagine negotiations with the Syrian government, but eventually Bashar Assad must go,”
Other countries as well are considering joining in the attack against the IS — also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL. Britain’s senior government officials are reportedly discussing their options, although such a move in Britain would require parliamentary approval. Australia is also weighing its options, although the scope of its mission would be small.