France conducts first anti-Daesh airstrikes in Iraq

Published November 24th, 2015 - 10:18 GMT
French Rafale fighter jets return to the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier on November 23, 2015 after conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. (AFP/Anne-Christine Poujoulat)
French Rafale fighter jets return to the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier on November 23, 2015 after conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. (AFP/Anne-Christine Poujoulat)

France says it has carried out their first attacks against Daesh positions in Iraq’s northern and western parts from Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which was newly deployed in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We carried out strikes in Ramadi and Mosul in support of ground forces that were pushing against” Daesh, French army chief of staff General Pierre de Villiers said aboard the carrier on Monday.

The French Defense Ministry announced later in the day that four twin-engine and multirole Dassault Rafale fighter jets also bombed Daesh bases in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, situated some 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of the capital, Damascus.

The strikes took place at 1830 GMT and “destroyed an active site occupied by terrorist fighters in Raqqa,” the ministry said.

The strikes came 10 days after a series of deadly attacks claimed by Daesh in Paris on November 13, which French President Francois Hollande described as “an act of war.” 

Over 130 people were killed and over 350 injured in the shootings and explosions.

On November 18, the Charles de Gaulle carrier was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea off the Syrian coastline and closer to Daesh targets, including command and recruitment centers as well as oil facilities. The aircraft carrier has an air wing of 26 fighters, consisting of 18 Rafales and 8 Super Étendard jets.

Paris-Moscow coordination

France has been coordinating with Russia through the headquarters of the US-led military coalition in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Qatar in a bid to avoid crossing paths with Russian jets, a move, observers say, has sidelined Washington’s role in the alliance.

The Russian and French navies have also began exchanging information since the end of last week ahead of Charles de Gaulle’s deployment to the eastern Mediterranean, where Moscow has several ships.

The Russian military has begun an anti-terror campaign against terror groups in Syria at the request of Damascus since late September.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since Daesh began their march through the Iraqi territory in June 2014. In neighboring Syria, the conflict, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and left over one million injured, according to the UN.

The US-led coalition has been pounding purported Daesh targets inside Syria since last September. The airstrikes in Syria are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against alleged Daesh positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material


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