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France

French air strikes destroy IS camp in Syria, Hollande

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French President Francois Hollande announces the results of air strikes on Syria at the UN General Assembly in New York Reuters/Alain Jocard/Pool

French president François Hollande said that six jets hit a training camp of the Islamic State (IS) armed group near the town of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria on Sunday, shortly after Paris announced that it had started air strikes in Syrian territory.

Five of the six planes that bombarded the camp were French Rafale jets, Hollande said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The targets for Sunday's air strikes had been identified by French reconnaissance flights over the least two weeks and by information provided by the US-led coalition that is fighting IS.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday said that the air strikes are self-defence on France's part.

"We are striking Daesh [IS] in Syria, because this terrorist organisation is preparing attacks on France from its sanctuaries in Syria," Valls said while on a visit to the south of France. eWe are acting in legitimate defence, which is what is allowed in the UN charter,  article 51."

France is acting "coherently, autonomously, focused on our objectives – but in close contact, of course, with our allies", he added.

France has carried out 215 out of nearly 4,500 strikes against IS in Iraq since September last year but until recently it refused to join the US and other allies in bombing Syria.

But the government has been under pressure to act against jihadists, notably after the latest attempted attack by a gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train in August.

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