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Europe

France to accept 24,000 refugees, launch Syria surveillance flights, Hollande

media French President Francois Hollande at the press conference on Monday Reuters/Charles Platiau

France will take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years and launch surveillance flights over Islamic State (IS) armed group positions in Syria, President François Hollande said Monday. The refugee intake would be France's share of mandatory quotas proposed by the European Commission to take in 120,000 people.

"We will do it," Hollande told a press conference that followed last week's U-turn on quotas, which Paris had previously opposed.

He also proposed to host an international conference on the migration crisis.

Germany and France will take nearly half of the 120,000 refugees to be relocated from frontline states, a European Union source told the AFP news agency on Monday.

In another change of tack, Hollande announced that French airplanes will fly over Syria, partially reversing an earlier decision to only take part in air strikes on IS in Iraq.

He said they would be surveillance flights "allowing us to plan air strikes against Daesh [IS]," he said at a press conference to mark the beginning of the new French political season.

He ruled out sending French troops to take part in land operations.

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