Tuesday 6 December 2016

French parliament approves continued air strikes on IS in Syria

Published 25/11/2015 | 06:36

French president Francois Hollande walks through the lobby of the Elysee Palace (AP)
French president Francois Hollande walks through the lobby of the Elysee Palace (AP)
Soldiers patrol the Christmas market along the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris as security is stepped up following the November 13 terror attacks (AP)

French parliamentarians have overwhelmingly voted to continue air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria beyond early January.

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The parliament's upper house voted 325-0, with 21 abstentions, to extend the fight against IS.

The Islamic militants have claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

French fighter jets joined the US-led coalition against IS extremists in Iraq in 2014, and expanded their mission to IS targets in Syria in September.

French president Francois Hollande has cited specific threats against French interests stemming from IS in Syria.

Mr Hollande has said he would like Germany to do more in the fight against the extremists.

Speaking at a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, Mr Hollande said it would be a "very good signal" if Germany went further in Iraq and Syria against IS.

Germany currently provides weapons and training for Kurds fighting against IS in Iraq.

Ms Merkel said Germany will do more to tackle the extremists, adding that her country will do everything it can to prevent similar attacks to the Paris atrocities from occurring again.

Ahead of a working dinner with Mr Hollande, she said: "We are stronger than any terrorism. Nevertheless, terrorism must be fought with all possible force. And here we want to stand by France's side.

"If the French president asks me to think about what more we can do, then it's our task to think about that and we will act quickly."

She added that IS "can't be convinced with words, it must be fought with military means".

The two leaders spoke after visiting Paris' Place de la Republique, which has become a tribute site for the 130 people killed in the November 13 attacks claimed by IS.

Occupancy rates at some Paris hotels have plunged by more than 30% in the days since the attacks, a study has found.

STR Global found that compared to the same dates a year ago, occupancy rates were 39% lower last Saturday and 33% lower last Sunday.

The day after the attacks, there was a 14% drop from the same date a year earlier, followed by decreases in the 20% to 30% range between November 15 and 20.

The firm cautioned that the report only represents 37% of its monthly sample for Paris hotels, so the data is not definitive.

Press Association

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