French airstrikes in Syria target ‘training camps’, not individuals: Hollande

Published October 19th, 2015 - 01:48 GMT

The French airstrikes in Syria do not target individuals in particular but "training camps", said French President Francois Hollande on Monday.

France launched its first airstrikes in Syria in late September after several operations against Daesh in Iraq.

"Our strikes are aimed at training camps in Syria. I cannot know who is there. What I know is that in those places ... there are terrorists who are training to fight in Syria but also can plant bombs in our country," Hollande said.

He refused to confirm if the strikes conducted last week were specifically aimed at French national Benghalem Salim, 35, "responsible for the reception of French and francophones for Daesh," as French daily Le Monde has reported.

The French Defense Ministry announced it had struck, on the night of Oct. 8, a Daesh training camp in Raqqa, which was believed to house "foreign fighters, probably French nationals and francophones".

The French president repeated that around 600 French nationals were currently fighting in Syria and Iraq.

"We have a duty to neutralize them, to detain them if they return. But we cannot say: we will target a particular terrorist," Hollande added.

French weekly L'Express reported that Benghalem had survived the strikes.

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