The French government is mulling airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria, France’s Le Monde newspaper reported Saturday, citing a “high-level” source. France is already a part of the anti-ISIS coalition that has been bombing the militant group’s strongholds in northern Iraq since August last year.
According to the newspaper, French President Francois Holland discussed the issue during a board of defense meeting Friday and would express his views on the matter at a news conference Monday.
“Do we have the ability to strike effectively? Undoubtedly. Are we able to hit without collateral damage? That is more difficult,” the source, whose name was not revealed, told Le Monde in French. However, he added that reconnaissance flights would be given priority over airstrikes in Syria.
France, which was one of the first nations to join the United States-led coalition formed last year to target ISIS in Iraq, has so far refrained from intervening in Syria over fears that such a move might inadvertently help Syrian President Bashar Assad tighten his grip over the country’s government.
Assad, who reportedly expressed willingness to share power with a “healthy” opposition on Friday, is currently engaged in a multi-pronged battle against the so-called moderate Syrian rebels, Syrian Kurds and the Sunni ISIS.
According to the anonymous source, the lack of movement toward a political solution in Syria, rising influence of Russia in the region, and a massive exodus of refugees seeking to escape the protracted conflict, might prompt a change in Paris’ stance.