Hollande salutes first British airstrikes in Syria

Hollande salutes first British airstrikes in Syria
Photo: AFP
The French president has commended Britain’s first airstrikes in Syria after the UK parliament gave the green light late on Wednesday. The vote represents a major political boost for Hollande.

Hollande would have been greatly relieved on Wednesday when British MPs voted largely in favour of airstrikes after a ten-hour debate in the House of Commons.

The French president has been trying to build a broad coalition to take on Isis in Syria and with Britain agreeing to join the fray, Hollande’s response to the Paris terror attacks was given more international backing.

“The President of the Republic salutes the first British air operations over Syria this morning after the yesterday’s vote obtained by a large majority in parliament,” read a statement from the Elysée.

“After the decision of the German Council of Ministers, which needs to be confirmed by the Bundestag, it [the British intervention] is a new response to the call for European solidarity that the president had launched on November 16th.

France had been desperate for UK involvement and while Cameron had pledged support in a visit to Paris, the French government was aware that a parliamentary vote may not go in their favour.

France’s defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian took the unusual step of making a direct appeal to French MPs by publishing an open plea in the Guardian newspaper.

Hollande did not want to go it alone in Syria and Britain's involvement is a huge boost – both symbolically and militarily.