French President Francois Hollande looks on as he delivers a speech to members of Parliament during an exceptional joint gathering of Parliament in Versailles on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
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French President Francois Hollande is under pressure to change policy in Syria's civil war and work more closely with Russia after a wave of deadly attacks in Paris but he seems determined to stick to his guns and escalate military action.Hollande's response to Friday's attacks was to declare that France is at war with ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the Paris carnage, and to launch a major airstrike on ISIS targets in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.While vowing national unity, his conservative opponents criticized the Socialist president for ostracizing Russia, shunning Iran and insisting that President Bashar Assad must go as a precondition for any Syrian peace settlement. Putin's intervention in the Syria conflict last month with airstrikes on anti-Assad forces, including "moderate" Islamist groups armed and trained by the West, wrong-footed the French and U.S. governments.Unlike the United States, France has generally had a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy and the differences over Syria policy may be less deep in France than they appear.Paris recently joined coalition airstrikes in Syria after more than a year of bombing in Iraq.
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