Cameron tells Hollande he wants UK to join Syria strikes

French leader keen to ‘intensify’ attacks on Islamic State to yield ‘best possible damage’

French president Francois Hollande embraces British prime minister David Cameron  after a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Monday. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA.

French president Francois Hollande embraces British prime minister David Cameron after a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Monday. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA.

 

British prime minister David Cameron has said he is convinced the UK should carry out military air strikes alongside France and other partners in Syria in an effort to defeat Islamic State.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Paris on Monday with French president Francois Hollande, Mr Cameron also said he had offered France use of a British airbase in Cyprus as well as additional assistance with air-to-air refuelling.

“Later this week I will set out in parliament our comprehensive strategy for tackling Isil (Islamic State),” Mr Cameron said.

“I firmly support the action that President Hollande has taken to strike Isil in Syria and it is my firm conviction that Britain should do so too,” he said, adding that that was a decision for parliament to take.

The prime minister is wagering that the attacks that killed 130 people in attacks in Paris on November 13th will tip parliament in favour of launching strikes.

Mr Cameron is eager to avoid a repeat of 2013, when he lost a crunch parliamentary vote on air strikes against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

He also said that he would step up efforts to share intelligence with France and other European partners, adding that he planned to present a comprehensive strategy to defeat Islamic State to parliament later this week.

Targets destroyed

French jets struck Islamic State targets in Iraq on Monday, taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for the first time, the military said on Twitter on Monday.

The tweet said two targets had been destroyed, without elaborating.

France’s defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, had told Europe 1 radio on Sunday the flagship of the French Navy, deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to back France’s involvement in air strikes in Iraq and Syria, would be fully operational from Monday.

Mr Cameron and Mr Hollande also discussed measures to improve intelligence-sharing and to work more closely with other European allies to counter the threat posed from jihadists returning after fighting in Syria and Iraq.

“This requires a pan-European effort. We need a stronger external EU border to protect our security more effectively,” Mr Cameron said.

At the same time he said that more needs to be done to strike at Islamic State in its heartlands of Syria and Iraq. “I firmly support the action that President Hollande has taken to strike Isil in Syria and it is my firm conviction that Britain should do so too,” he said.

“It is clear that the world is coming together to tackle this evil terrorist threat. We have shown our firm resolve and together we will defeat this evil threat.”

Mr Hollande also stressed the importance of hitting Islamic State in Syria and said French warplanes would be stepping up their attacks.

“This organisation is launching a war against us,” he said. “We will intensify our strikes, we will choose the targets that yield the best possible damage against the terrorist army.”