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MILITARY

France to start using armed drones

France unveiled plans on Tuesday to start using armed drones, joining a growing number of countries worldwide to operate the deadly unmanned aircraft.

France to start using armed drones
France's defence minister Florence Parly looking at a drone. AFP
“I decided to begin the process of arming our intelligence and surveillance drones,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told a gathering of recruits and lawmakers in the southern port city of Toulon.
 
France currently operates a handful of unarmed Reaper drones as part of its presence monitoring jihadist groups in Africa's Sahel region.
 
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Parly said the military planned to equip six unmanned aerial vehicles purchased from the United States with “precision guided” weaponry from 2019.
   
The drones will “pose a permanent threat to armed terrorist groups” in the areas where the French military operates, she said.
   
“This decision doesn't change the rules on the use of armed force. The rules of engagement for armed drones will be absolutely identical to those already applied,” Parly added.
   
Several countries including the United States, Israel, Italy and Britain have operational armed drones.
   
The weapons are widely used in the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, as well as in Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

MILITARY

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, government officials said Thursday after President Donald Trump surprised Washington's allies by ordering US troops home.

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves
Photo: AFP
“For now of course we remain in Syria,” France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding “the fight against terrorism is not over.”
   
“It's true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she said.
   
France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.
 
On Wednesday Trump said in a Twitter video that “We've won against ISIS,” another acronym for the Islamic State group, and that it was time to bring the roughly 2,000 US soldiers fighting the jihadists home.
   
It was a stunning reversal of a US policy which had vowed its support for Kurdish allies who have been key fighters against IS forces in Syria.
 
Its allies have warned that despite losing most of the territory it once controlled during the bloody Syrian civil war, the IS threat has not been totally eradicated.
   
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter Thursday that the group “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.”
 
“We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organisation,” she said.
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