Nice attack: What it means for fight in Syria, Iraq

In the wake of the attack in Nice on Friday, French President Francois Hollande has said the country will strengthen actions in Iraq and Syria in order to continue the fight against terrorism.

Speaking in the early hours of Friday morning after a deadly attack in Nice killed 84 people, Hollande said all of France is under threat from Islamist terrorism.

"Nothing will make us yield in our will to fight terrorism, Hollande said. "We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil." He added that France will always be stronger than the fanatics who want to attack it, and announced a number of military measures to ensure the fight against terrorism remains a top priority for the nation.

Meanwhile, analysts have pointed out that increased air strikes by France in Syria and Iraq appear to be one inevitable French response. Alan Mendoza, Founder & Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society told CNBC on Friday that France is hinting that the attack is ISIS-related.

"Hollande is suggesting this has been directed by the dying embers of IS in Syria and Iraq, even if not directly planned by them, and as a result he intends to use France's full force to drive them off the territory they occupy in those countries," he said.

Heavy smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria. (File Photo).
Getty Images
Heavy smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria. (File Photo).

The deadly attack on Nice, killing at least 84 people after a big truck drove at a high speed into dense crowds, has increased concerns among nations globally about the rise of terrorist activities and the growing role of ISIS. France has been battling terrorist attacks, with the Nice attack the second terror attack in a year. The Paris attack in November 2015 saw nearly 130 people killed.

Immediately after the attacks, the country launched fresh air strikes against Iraq and Syria with the support of British prime minister David Cameron. The air raids were launched from France's recently deployed Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier capable of supporting airstrikes against the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria. The country's ongoing military operation in the region, called Operation Chammal, was launched in September 2014 and has been backed by both the United States and the United Kingdom.

While currently France has extended a state of emergency and has vowed to ramp up its military actions in Syria and Iraq, the two countries fighting Islamic State militants, other developed nations have also joined hands to launch a coordinated war.

Condolence messages have been flowing in from around the world, condemning the attack and showing solidarity with France. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tweeted earlier that Europe and Asia must unite against terrorism. "Terrorists and their sponsors only understand the language of force, and we may use it," he said in a tweet.


Photographer | Collection | Getty Images

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent messages of condolence to the French President Hollande over the mass killings in Nice. Additionally, President Putin also held talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a proposed extensive military cooperation agreement that may see both countries coordinate air strikes on the Islamic State.

While it is not clear if an agreement was reached, both the leaders said they were hopeful of reaching an accord. The proposed agreement involves closer military coordination involving airstrikes against militant groups Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria. The agreement would mean Moscow using its influence to ground Syria's air force, which has resisted a ceasefire agreement and has continued to bomb civilian areas in the country. It would also mean Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepping aside, a move that analysts have said may not suit Russia as it wouldn't want to be involved in a move with the West to bring change in the region.

In an interview with NBC News in Damascus, the Syrian President, who has been accused of deliberately targeting civilians, executions, torture and crimes against humanity, said he never faced any pressure from his Russian counterparts to step aside.

"Only the Syrian people define who's going to be the president, when to come, and when to go. They never said a single word regarding this," he said.

Calling himself a patriot, Assad told NBC news that history will see him as a man who protected his country from terrorism and from intervention, and saved its sovereignty. "When you protect your country from the terrorists, and you kill terrorists, and you defeat terrorists, you're not brutal. you are a patriot," he said.


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