By Ahmed Abbas and Adham Youssef
Following the Paris attacks on Friday that killed more than 120 people, which militant group “Islamic State” (IS) claimed responsibility. Speculations arise concerning the increase of France’s involvement in Syria.
The French policy towards the crisis in Syria escalated recently compared with other Western countries, taking the step to publically call on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down.
In addition to supporting the Syrian opposition since the start of the anti-regime protests in 2011, France is carrying out strikes in Syria, as well as being a founding member of the US-led coalition to fight IS.
Last week, France struck various oil and gas installations, citing the need to annihilate IS’ economic resources, such as oil wells.
“I think French President Francois Hollande will take measures to deliver a message of strength and unity against IS. The issues in Syria will not be very easy and no clear results will be available,” political analyst at institute of political studies in Paris Gespard Estrada told Daily News Egypt.
“Hollande is against Al-Assad and we can expect these attacks may change the situation. But I think that he might continue to try to oust Al-Assad,” he said. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is currently attending Vienna talks “so we will know soon what will be the impact of these attacks on France’s foreign policy”.
In past weeks, Hollande announced the French army will deploy an aircraft carrier in Syria. Local French reports stated that six Rafale fighter jets are being used in the strikes. Diplomatically, France was also critical of Al-Assad, who recently proposed a resolution at the UN to stop barrel bombs attacks on Syrian civilians.
“It would not surprise me if France carried out strikes in Syria,” Charlie Winter, Senior Researcher of conflict, based in London, told Daily News Egypt.
In a recent development, Al-Assad said Saturday that ongoing French policy dealing with the situation in Syria helped and contributed to spreading terrorism.
He connected his argument to Friday’s attacks. AFP reported during a meeting with a group of French lawmakers in Damascus that Al-Assad described France’s policies as “mistaken”, and that the attacks cannot be separated from what happened in Beirut on Thursday.
A bombing in Beirut killed 43 and left around 190 people injured, some of whom are in critical condition. The area around Burj Al-Barajneh shopping centre, where the deadly attack took place, is said to be a stronghold for the Shi’a Hezbollah group.
Al-Assad had warned against what would happen in Europe for the past three years, and Winter advises that Hollande “should change his policy”.
Bashar Al-Jaafari, permanent representative of Syria in the United Nations, also echoed Al-Assad’s statements, that “the best way to fight terrorism is to join the ‘right’ coalition. We have not done any mistakes in Syria. The US, the French, and the Turkish made mistakes and are now suffering terrorism”.
Al-Jaafari and Al-Assad’s regime is being investigated by the French authorities for alleged war crimes committed between 2011 and 2013. The Syrian regime has been diplomatically asking the world to both fight IS and Islamist militant groups who are anti-Al-Assad.
IS claimed the Paris attacks in an online statement. Winter said the claim “seems to be credible, although they did not release too much information details”.