France says Syria airstrikes must target 'all terrorists'

France says Syria airstrikes must target 'all terrorists'
Western airstrikes in Syria targeting Islamic State should be extended to included all 'terrorist groups' French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said.
2 min read
05 October, 2015
France has launched air raids against IS targets in Syria and Iraq [AFP]

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday that airstrikes in Syria must target Islamic State group militants but also other groups "considered as terrorists."

Fabius said a statement by President Francois Hollande on Friday that Russian airstrikes must target "Daesh and only Daesh [the Arabic acronym for IS]", did not exclude other groups like the al-Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaeda franchise.

"Of course, it is a concise formulation, it is Daesh and groups considered as terrorists," Fabius told Europe 1 radio in an interview, referring to Hollande's statement.

Russia air raids

Moscow, which has launched more than 70 airstrikes in Syria since last Wednesday, has come under fire for targeting Western-backed moderate opposition and IS fighters alike in their bid to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

President Barack Obama has called Russia's dramatic intervention a "recipe for disaster", while British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to "change direction" in Syria and recognise that Assad must be replaced.

Fabius warned of the risk that the Syrian conflict could turn into a wider religious war.

"When you see a conflict which at first was a civil war, becoming a regional war involving international powers, Russia, Iran, the US, the risks are serious," he said.

"The most terrifying risk is that the conflict becomes religious: If you have Shia [Muslim] populations on one side with their allies, and Sunni populations on the other side with their allies, it is an inferno which can be extremely dangerous."

Sectarian war

Assad is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shia Islam, who is supported by regional Shia heavyweight Iran as well as Tehran-backed militias like Lebanon's Hizballah.

On the other side Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are opposed to Assad and have backed the Islamist groups fighting him. They are also taking part in a US-led coalition carrying out an air campaign against IS.

France, which has been targeting IS in Iraq for the past year, began striking the group in Syria eight days ago.