In the name of “self defense”, France conducted its first Sunday strikes against the Islamic state group (EI) in Syria, on the eve of the announcement of a Russian plan for an enlarged coalition against the jihadists.
These strikes have targeted a jihadist camp near Deir Ezzor (east), who “was totally destroyed,” President Francois Hollande said. “Our forces have achieved their objectives,” Mr Hollande said, speaking during a press conference in New York.
Six aircraft were used and there were no civilian casualties during the raid conducted using information collected during the last two weeks of French reconnaissance flights, and through “information provided by the coalition” , he explained.
“Other strikes may take place if necessary,” added the head of state, noting that France had acted in “legitimate defense”, to “protect” its territory.
Until then, France had banned military intervention in Syria, fearing that it would serve the interests of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including Paris, which considers it the main cause of the war, the demand departure.
The French air force had started flights recognition September 8 over Syria. For a year, she leads a bombing campaign on neighboring Iraq (Chamal operation with around 215 hits and 344 targets destroyed according to Staff), alongside the international coalition led by the United States.
According to Paris, which ruled out any ground intervention, keystrokes in Syria main purpose of preventing terrorist acts in Europe. They will aim, in a targeted way, commandments centers, training camps and the logistics of the jihadist group. Nevertheless, experts are skeptical about their effectiveness, especially seeing it as a political message to the attention of French public opinion, and a way to get back into the political and diplomatic play.
These strikes occur on the eve of the 70th General Assembly of the UN in New York, with the participation of President Hollande, already on site, and promises to be a great diplomatic ballet around the Syrian crisis.
During the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s greatest ally of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad should propose a broader coalition, including the military plan to fight the Islamic State.
The Russian plan raises many questions. But after more than four years of bloody conflict that left nearly 240,000 dead and caused an exodus of 8 million refugees and displaced persons, is total deadlock in the field.
In both Iraq and Syria, the strikes led by the United States and its coalition allies (nearly 7000 bombing by the US command) are far from having achieved the desired results.
In Syria, if EI was contained in Kurdish area along the Turkish border, the jihadists have seized Palmyra in May and have recently made progress in the Aleppo region. The global jihad volunteers continue to arrive by the thousands, and threatened to carry out attacks on their return to their country of origin.
While the Western camp was mainly illustrated by its passivity and procrastination, a modest American support plan and training a handful of moderate rebels is about to turn into a fiasco.
Supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a coalition of Islamist rebels scored points, especially in the province of Idleb (northwest) but it’s main objective is the fall of Bashar, not the fight against EI, and collaborates with the al-Nusra Front, local franchise of al Qaeda and key player in the battlefield.
In front, the regime of Bashar al-Assad shows very clear signs of exhaustion, with breathless army that has more than ever the support of Iran as Russia.
The situation has changed in recent weeks, with a spectacular rise of Russia which sent significant military reinforcements – including air – in the Latakia region (west), bastion of the regime on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Bottling in the Syrian sky
According to Washington, the Russians have even conducted reconnaissance flights over the country, but have not yet carried out strikes.
In this context, Iraq announced Sunday an agreement with Russia, Syria and Iran to strengthen coordination of intelligence in the fight against EI.
The Russian military activism today arouses the concern of the United States. In an interview with the CBS system, Putin said Sunday want to set up a “coordination framework” expanded, with countries in the region to combat EI. To date, the plan appears mainly as a way for Putin to remount his ally Bashar Assad.
Sunday in New York, President Hollande reaffirmed that “the future of Syria can not pass by Bashar al-Assad.” But France ‘chats with everyone and does not exclude anyone “in the search for a political solution, he added, while many see the French bombing in Syria realignment or a net shift in the French position for the Damascus regime.