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French airstrikes hit IS targets in Syria

France's defense minister has said the country launched a second wave of attacks on terrorist targets overnight. He has also critcized the Russian military involvement in Syria.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday the strikes hit a training camp belonging to the "Islamic State" militia.

"Two Rafale jets dropped bombs on an IS training camp. The objectives were accomplished," Le Drian told radio station "Europe 1."

France had launched its first round of airstrikes on September 27, hitting another IS training camp in Syria allegedly established by a French citizen.

In a television interview following that strike, Le Drian had said there would be more to follow. He repeated the statement in Friday's radio interview, suggesting this second strike will not be the last time the country attacks IS in Syria.

Criticism of Russia

The defense minister also criticized Moscow during the interview, echoing the words of his US counterpart Ashton Carter in saying "80 to 90 percent" of Moscow's airstrikes in Syria were not intended to destroy IS, but rather to strengthen the country's embattled president, Bashar al-Assad.

"The Russian military action in Syria over the past 10 days does not target Daesh," he said, using the Arabic name for IS.

His comments come as fighting between IS, forces loyal to the Assad government and groups seeking to topple the president have intensified.

Iran confirmed on Friday that a well-known commander of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard had been killed by IS fighters. General Hossein Hamedani was killed late Wednesday in northern Aleppo, where he had been advising the Syrian Army.

Like the United States and other Western countries, France holds Assad accountable for the four-year-long civil war in Syria that has led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people. Also like those countries, France has condemned Russia, along with Iran, for intervening militarily in the conflict, insisting they are trying to tip the scales in favor of Assad, a close ally of both Moscow and Tehran.

France, which has been a part of the US-led coalition to destroy IS, previously carried out strikes against the terrorist group in Iraq.

blc/bk (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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