France’s Hollande calls for international action against al-Nusra Front militants


Mon, Jul 11, 2016 - Page 4

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday called for international action against an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, warning that the recent losses sustained by the Islamic State (IS) group could embolden other militant groups.

“DAESH [the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] is in retreat, that is beyond dispute,” Hollande said after a meeting with the leaders of the US, Germany, Britain, Italy and Ukraine on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

However, Hollande added, “we must also avoid a situation whereby as DAESH becomes weaker, other groups become stronger.”

Hollande singled out al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front as particularly standing to benefit from the US-led military campaign against the Islamic State group.

Faced with a barrage of airstrikes and ground offensives by local forces, IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has lost territory in both Syria and Iraq in recent months.

“We must coordinate among ourselves to continue actions against DAESH, but also ... take effective action against al-Nusra,” Hollande said, directing his appeal at Russia and the US.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone call to “intensify” military coordination between their two countries in Syria.

Russia had in May proposed joint air strikes with the US against militant targets in Syria — a suggestion that was rebuffed by Washington.

The White House reported that the two leaders, in their call this week, “confirmed their commitment to defeating ISIL and the [sic] al-Nusra Front.”

The two groups are excluded from a broader truce brokered by Moscow and Washington in February.