The French prime minister says that France will decide "alone" of its targets when conducting airstrikes in Syria to fight the Islamic State group.

Manuel Valls ensured France will have "full autonomy of decision and action" and ruled out any intervention on the ground by French military, in a speech at Parliament.

French reconnaissance flights over Syria began last week, and President Francois Hollande said airstrikes would follow soon.

Until now, France has only conducted airstrikes in Iraq as a member of the U.S.-led coalition, fearing that hitting at IS in Syria would ultimately help the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Valls justified the decision to intervene in Syria by the right to "self-defense" against terrorism.