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France to deploy aircraft carrier to assist in operations against IS group

Joel Saget, AFP | A file picture taken on June 13, 2011 shows the French Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier sailing off the Libyan coast

France will deploy its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to support operations against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, the presidency announced on Thursday.

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“The deployment of the battle group alongside the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier has been decided to participate in operations against Daesch and its affiliate groups,” the statement said, referring to the Arabic acronym for the IS group.

France has been part of the US-led coalition bombarding the IS group in Iraq since September 2014, and expanded its campaign to include Syria two months ago.

The deployment will more than double the country’s military presence in the region, where it already has six Rafale fighter jets based in the United Arab Emirates, as well as six Mirage fighter aircraft in Jordan.

The Charles de Gaulle, France’s only carrier, is usually accompanied by an attack submarine, several frigates and a refuelling ship.

It is currently docked in the southern French city of Toulon, where it has been under maintenance since the spring, and was previously deployed to fight against the IS group in Iraq for two months, from February 23 to mid-April.

The statement, which was issued after a defence cabinet meeting, added that France supported efforts to reach a political transition in Syria, but said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could not be a part of the country’s future.

France has repeatedly said in the past that Assad would have to go before the IS group could be defeated.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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