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France considers air strikes against IS targets in Syria

The French newspaper Le Monde said President Francois Hollande is mulling over whether to join the US-led coalition in Syria
France denies that it will join the US-led air campaign in Syria (AFP)

France is considering air strikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria, in what would be a reversal of its current position, the French news paper Le Monde said on Saturday.

Neither the French presidency, the foreign ministry nor the defence ministry would comment on the report, with officials saying only that President Francois Hollande may address the question during his twice-yearly press conference on Monday.

France currently only participates in missions against IS in Iraq following that country's request for international help against the militants. 

Paris has refused to carry out strikes in Syria on fears that foreign intervention may inadvertently help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hold on to power.

But Le Monde said France is feeling compelled by events to reconsider its position and could begin reconnaissance flights over the war-torn country.

"Hollande is considering striking IS in Syria," Le Monde headlined.

"The accelerating exodus of Syrian (refugees), the failure of the coalition to push IS back and the possible reinforcement of Russian military presence (in Syria) are challenging the French position," Le Monde said. 

Speaking to AFP on Saturday, a French official said it would not involve joining the US-led coalition.

"Our line hasn't changed, and there's no question of joining the coalition in Syria," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

Other officials told AFP Paris may renounce its pledge not to intervene militarily in Syria "for reasons of national security" saying it would be done "completely independently".

This year, France has been targeted by several attacks linked to IS fighters.

At the same time, officials said, France's priority remains finding a credible political alternative to Syria's current government.

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