Anti-Daesh coalition to meet in France next week French defense minister says allies will intensify attacks on militants in Syria, Iraq

PARIS (AA) – The U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition is to meet next week to discuss stepping up attacks on the militant group, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday.

Daesh is in clearly retreat in Iraq, Le Drian said as he announced France’s latest airstrikes on the group in Iraq.

“We’ll see how we can intensify our efforts in Iraq and Syria,” he told French broadcast BFMTV. The minister said French jets had struck seven times since Monday.

Le Drian added he would meet his U.S., British and German counterparts in Paris next week to fine tune the coalition’s strategy.

France was the first nation to join the U.S. in conducted airstrikes in Iraq. Since November’s Paris attacks, it has stepped up its bombing campaign in both Iraq and Syria.

Le Drian said French warplanes targeted a Daesh telecommunications center near the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday evening.

He also reiterated French criticism of Russian airstrikes on civilians in Syria. “If the principal Russian objective is to fight Islamic State, then they must first hit Islamic State,” Le Drian said, using an alternative name for Daesh.

“At the moment that is not the case and there is a very strong tendency for it to strike rebels, the moderate opposition fighting [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.”

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