The president of France François Hollande visits on December 4 the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle stationed in the eastern Mediterranean.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not have to step down before a “political transition” process takes place in Syria.
The comments published by French newspaper Le Progres on Saturday mark France’s latest departure from its hardline stance on the government in Damascus.
Fabius said Syrian government forces and other “regional forces” should unite in order for the fight against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group to be effective.
“The fight against Daesh is crucial, but it will only be totally effective if all the Syrian and regional forces are united,” he said.
“A united Syria implies a political transition. That does not mean that Bashar al-Assad must leave even before the transition, but there must be assurances for the future,” he said.
Fabius had already implied in late November that Syrian government forces must be involved in the fight against Daesh. The terrorist group has overrun areas in Syria and Iraq, and the Syrian government has been heavily involved in fighting it.
Speaking to French radio RTL back on November 27, Fabius said that in the fight against Daesh, “there must be two measures: bombings… and ground troops who cannot be ours.”
He said the ground forces should be made of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and “Sunni Arab forces” and can also be joined by Syrian government forces.
Although Fabius later tried to alter his view by saying that what he meant was that the forces of a government formed “within the context of a political transition” can fight Daesh, his November remarks – as his Saturday comments – are widely seen as a potential shift of position on the Syrian government.
The apparent shift comes as France has been trying to build a broad coalition against Daesh following attacks carried out by Daesh in the French capital of Paris. The November 13 attacks killed 130 people and injured some 350 others.
Since then, France has intensified its airstrikes in Syria and deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.