After Friday’s attacks in Paris, two sides that don’t usually agree on anything found common ground on one issue: Both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS said the attacks were retaliation for France’s own foreign policy.
In a statement translated by SITE, ISIS said:
Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State, and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign, and dare to curse our Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes, which did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys.
Assad, meanwhile, criticized France for backing rebels against his regime; the attacks, he argued, showed that he and France were in the same predicament. “Wrong policies adopted by Western states, particularly France, towards events in the region, and its ignorance of the support of a number of its allies to terrorists, are reasons behind the expansion of terrorism,” he said.
But what exactly is France doing in Syria and elsewhere in the region? As The Guardian notes, France has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Assad government throughout the civil war that has engulfed the country. Assad is battling scores of groups that seek to topple his regime, including ISIS, other Islamist groups, and militias backed by Western powers. France’s military efforts against ISIS have developed gradually over the course of the last 15 months—spreading from limited sorties in Iraq to include missions over Syria and the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf.