Tuesday, February 24, 2015

French aircraft carrier joins ISIS fight

A French Rafale fighter aircraft landing on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

A Rafale fighter aircraft landing on the Charles de Gaulle off the coast of Toulon in January. The ship has now been deployed in the Gulf. Photograph: Anne-christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
France has deployed an aircraft carrier in the Gulf as part of the US-led military campaign against Islamic State in Iraq, a defence ministry official said.
“The integration of the Charles de Gaulle in the operation ... [in Iraq] begins this morning,” a member of staff of the defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told AFP as his entourage made its way to the carrier.
The first Rafale fighter jet took off on Monday morning from the Charles de Gaulle as it sailed about 120 miles off the coast north of Bahrain in the direction of Iraq. .
The warship’s deployment will halve the time it takes for the planes to reach Iraq for strikes against Isis from their base in the United Arab Emirates.
France launched Operation Chammal in support of the US-led coalition against Isis in September.
It has nine Rafale and six Mirage fighters operating in Iraq from bases in Jordan and the UAE, along with a maritime patrol and a refuelling aircraft.
French warplanes have carried out about 100 reconnaissance missions and the same number of strike raids in Iraq since mid-September in support of Iraqi forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters battling Isis on the ground, ministry sources said.
France is, along with Australia, one of the main contributors to the 32-member coalition effort, aside from the US, which is carrying out the bulk of strikes.
The coalition has carried out more than 2,000 strikes since August, with France and other western countries conducting operations over Iraq and several Arab countries taking part in strikes over Syria.
The campaign aims to support forces in Iraq and Syria, including rebel fighters and Kurdish forces, fighting Isis on the ground and to hit infrastructure seized by the jihadi group such as oil facilities.
While excluding the deployment of ground combat troops, coalition countries have also sent people to train Iraqi forces.

No comments: