French President Francois Hollande says France has launched its first air strikes against Islamic State in Syria as an act of self defense. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) France said on Sunday (September 27) it had launched its first air strikes against Islamic State in Syria in an act of "self-defence" to stop the militant group from carrying out attacks inside France. President Francois Hollande said the strikes targeted Islamic State training centers where militants were being prepared for carrying out attacks in France. The announcement was first made by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls a few hours before Hollande was to join world leaders for the start of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Islamist militants carried out a number of attacks in France this year, including one on the Paris office of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people died. A source in the presidency said the strikes were carried out early on Sunday morning. The United States is leading a coalition carrying out air strikes in Iraq and Syria. France had so far only taken part in strikes in Iraq, fearing such action against the group in Syria could strengthen Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But earlier this month, France began reconnaissance flights over Syria to gather information on Islamic State positions. The French Presidency said this information was used to carry out Sunday's strikes, which had been launched in coordination with its partners in the U.S.-led coalition. France was ready to join air strikes on Assad's forces in Syria in 2013 before U.S. President Barack Obama backed off the plan. France also on Sunday called for a "global solution" to the Syrian crisis, saying it supported U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura's initiative to work towards a political transition for the country. France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday that Assad could not play any role in a political transition, because this would not be credible to the Syrian people after so many deaths at the hands of his government.