France's possible participation in air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is "on the table", Defense Minister said on Thursday, hours after President Francois Hollande ruled out such strikes, Reuters reported.
France has joined the coalition bombing of Islamic State targets in Iraq on the basis it was asked for help by Baghdad, but has refrained from doing so in Syria, instead supporting the moderate opposition against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But Le Drian told RTL Radio when asked about the possibility France might join raids in Syria: "The opportunity is not there today. We already have an important task in Iraq and we will see in the coming days how the situation evolves."
Pressed further on whether it was a possibility in future, Le Drian - who is taking part in a war cabinet meeting with Hollande on Thursday - said: "The question is on the table".
France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said this week there was no legal barrier to such a move. Since then, Algerian militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State released a video on Wednesday showing the beheading of a French tourist.
Le Drian also said French miltary aircraft were "at this very moment" in action over Iraq.
Islamic State militants have seized a third of Iraq and territory across Syria. It has been blamed for a wave of sectarian violence, beheadings and massacres of civilians.
U.S. and coalition planes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria on Wednesday, but the strikes did not halt the fighters' advance in a Kurdish area where fleeing refugees told of villages burnt and captives beheaded.