President Francois Hollande has ordered the French military to prepare to launch air strikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.

Speaking at the president’s bi-annual press conference in Paris, Hollande said that France would use reconnaissance flights to gather intelligence on relevant targets from Tuesday.

He said:

“I have asked the minister of defence, starting tomorrow, to carry out reconnaissance flights over Syria so as to be able to envisage the possibility being able to striking Daesh, whilst at the same time preserving our independence of action and decision”

The president also ruled out the use of French ground troops to take on the jihadist group, which remains in control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Hollande argued that IS had planned terror attacks against many countries, including France, from its stronghold in the Middle East, and French air strikes were a response to this continued threat.

The US and local coalition partners already targets IS positions across Syria and Iraq with air strikes, but the UK currently only launches strikes in Iraqi territory in order to avoid the possibility of aiding mebattled Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

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