France’s army chief of staff says he sees no short term military victory in the fight against Islamic State as Paris intensifies its strikes on targets in Syria following the deadly attacks in the French capital.
President Francois Hollande has called for a grand coalition, including the United States and Russia, to eradicate Islamic State in Syria, and is due to meet with Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin next week.
Islamic State, also known as Daesh, claimed responsibility for the worst violence in France since World War Two, in which 130 people were killed in bombings and shootings. The group said the assaults were in retaliation for Paris’ involvement in US-backed air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
“There will be no military victory against Daesh in the short term,” Pierre de Villiers, chief of staff of armed forces, told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview published on Sunday.
“In the military, we are used to the long term but people … want fast results. In Syria and Iraq, we are in the heart of that paradox. Everybody knows that in the end this conflict will be resolved through diplomatic and political channels.”
Hollande will travel to Washington to speak with Obama on Tuesday and then head to Moscow to meet with Putin to discuss how their countries’ militaries might work together.
Russia and Western countries are divided over Syria. Moscow is supporting President Bashar al-Assad while the West says he should leave power to end Syria’s civil war.
Since the November 13 Paris bombings and shootings, French war planes have launched their biggest raids in Syria to date.
In the space of three days, some 60 bombs were dropped as training camps or command centres were targeted last week, de Villiers said.
“I honestly think that we seriously hurt them,” he said.