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Spain rules out Syria airstrikes but pledges support in fight against Isis

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Spain rules out Syria airstrikes but pledges support in fight against Isis
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP
12:52 CET+01:00
As European defence ministers unanimously backed a French request for help in defeating Isis, Spain appeared to step back from joining bombing raids over Syria.

"At this moment Spain is not planning on bombing Syria," Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz insisted in an interview with Telecinco on Tuesday morning.

Although he pledged support in the fight against Isis which had "declared war on the entire civilized world and we have to defend ourselves."

His comments echoed those of defence minister Pedro Morenés who on Monday said: "Spain has no plans (to carry out airstrikes), neither has it been asked to."

The comments came as European defence ministers unanimously backed a French request for help defeating Isis.

READ: all the latest news on Paris attacks

European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced on Tuesday morning that ministers had agreed support France, which has intensified bombing raids against the terror group's stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

"Today the EU through the voices of all the member states unanimously expressed its strongest full support and readiness to give the assistance needed," she told a press conference in Brussels with French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"France will be in contact bilaterally in coming hours and days to express the support it requires and the EU will ensure the greatest effectiveness in our common response," former Italian foreign minister Mogherini added.

The French minister said the EU's support was a "political act of great significance".

It was not immediately clear exactly what form the support would take. Before the meeting, Germany's foreign minister Ursula von der Leyen said: "It goes without saying that we will do everything in our power to provide help and support."

"We will listen very exactly to what France has to say and also analyse carefully what France is asking for," she added.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has failed so far to win parliamentary support for the RAF to take part in strikes against Isis. However, he upped pressure on his own Conservative MPs on Monday night, using a speech to promise £2 billion (€2.8 billion) in extra military spending, focused on defeating Isis. 

Sweden's Interior Minister Anders Ygeman confirmed to Swedish news agency TT that his country backed the plea for help, but said that what Sweden would offer might depend on the exact nature of France's request.

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was clear on the limits of his country's support when quizzed on the subject on Monday. Asked whether or not Italian forces would be used to engage Isis targets in Syria, Renzi again reiterated his reluctance to start a bombing campaign.

READ: all the latest news on Paris attacks

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