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France considers air strikes on Islamic State in Syria

French President Francois Hollande is due to give his views on the matter at a news conference on Monday

By Sybille de La Hamaide and Elizabeth Pineau

France is considering conducting air strikes on Islamic State in Syria, joining an international coalition led by the United States, Le Monde newspaper said on its website on Saturday, quoting an unnamed “high level source”.

Government officials declined to comment on the report, saying President Francois Hollande would express his views on the matter at a news conference on Monday.

France was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition carrying out air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq, but had ruled out doing so in Syria, fearing that would benefit President Bashar al-Assad. It has supplied arms to what it considers moderate rebels fighting the Assad regime.

But Europe’s refugee crisis, largely caused by vast numbers of people fleeing the civil war in Syria, the failure to push back Islamic State and a rising presence of Russia in the region may prompt a change in policy, Le Monde reported, saying Hollande discussed the issue with his defence team at a meeting on Friday.

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