France ready to play substantial role in Syria air strikes


President François Hollande of France has reaffirmed his intention to play a substantial role in air strikes on Syria – but is under increasing pressure to put the issue to parliament.

President Barack Obama and Mr Hollande spoke by telephone before Mr Obama announced that he would seek authorisation from Congress before staging an intervention.

Earlier in the day, an opinon poll for the newspaper Le Parisien showed that 64 per cent of French voters did not want France to join the US in air strikes.

Despite this, a source close to the French President said that he had reaffirmed to Mr Obama "his determination to act to sanction the regime", adding: "It's important for the Americans to have the green light from Congress."

Mr Hollande has the power, independent of parliament, to order military action lasting less than four months. However, Jean-Louis Borloo, the head of the opposition UDI party, called on Mr Hollande in a statement to "organise, after the debate, a formal vote in parliament". A non-voting debate on Syria will be held in the French parliament on Wednesday.