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French public back military intervention in Syria - poll

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PARIS (Reuters) - Most French people are in favour of military intervention by France in Syria, a poll showed on Saturday, a sharp reversal from a survey in 2013 when the majority opposed government plans for air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

France has been providing weapons to opposition Syrian Kurdish forces but has repeatedly ruled out a military operation in Syria without a United Nations mandate.

It was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition carrying out air strikes on Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria, but ruled out taking part in strikes on targets inside Syrian borders for fear it would benefit Assad.

In a survey of 1,103 French people carried out by pollster BVA, 55 percent said they would support French action in Syria compared to 64 percent who were against in 2013.

The survey showed that “92 percent of French say they are personally worried by the situation in Syria,” BVA said in a statement.

Syria’s civil war is in its fourth year, and the chaos is allowing Islamic State to continue to make territorial gains. Last week, the militants seized the city of Tadmur, home to the ancient ruins of Palmyra, after days of fierce fighting with the Syrian army.

Speaking after the fall of the city, French President Francois Hollande said the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria “had to act”.

Ministers of the coalition’s member countries will meet in Paris on June 2 to plot a strategy, including how to reverse recent losses.

A U.N. mandate for military intervention is a remote possibility since Russia and China have already vetoed watered-down Security Council resolutions.

Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky