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France to ramp up air strikes against Islamic State

Air strikes against Islamic State extremists will accelerate in the coming months, French president Francois Hollande has announced.

In a speech to the country's diplomatic corps, Mr Hollande said that this year must be one "of transition in Syria".

France has joined the United States and others in carrying out air strikes in Syria and Iraq, but has said peace will come only with the departure of president Bashar Assad.

The November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 dead and hundreds injured were carried out largely by French-speaking Europeans who had trained with Islamic State.

The French president said the allied strategy against the organisation "depends upon the liberation of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq" - the cities where the extremists have based their command centres.

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