Islamic State camp destroyed as France begins Syrian airstrikes


The first French airstrikes into Syrian territory have left an Islamic State camp in ruins, President Francois Hollande reported Sunday, hours after the country’s air force began operations in the country.

Six French planes, including five Rafale fighter jets, “completely” destroyed a training camp located at Deir al-Zour in the eastern part of Syria, Hollande said at an event at the United Nations in New York. The Elysee Palace had announced the start of aistrikes Sunday morning.

Hollande said that the location was identified during reconnaissance missions. The start of those missions had been announced earlier this month. He added that more airstrikes could take place in the next weeks.

In a statement, the Elysee said that the reconnaissance missions were conducted alongside coalition partners, but Prime Minister Manuel Valls stressed that the airstrikes had been conducted “autonomously” by French forces.

France has joined airstrikes in Iraq with the authorization of Baghdad, but had until now refrained from striking in Syria.

“Our country remains committed to fighting the terrorist threat which is Daesh. We will strike wherever our national security is at risk,” the Elysee said. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State extremist group.