France strikes Islamic State group in Syria, Iraq from aircraft carrier
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French jets struck Islamic State (IS) group targets in Syria and Iraq on Monday, taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for the first time, military sources said.
The planes destroyed targets in Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq in support of Iraqi forces on the ground fighting the jihadist group, the French armed forces said in a statement.
The increased French airstrikes against the IS group comes in the wake of the militant group’s coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 129 people.
French President Francois Hollande said earlier on Monday in Paris: "We will intensify our strikes, choosing targets that will do the most damage possible to this army of terrorists."
The Charles De Gaulle, which is is the jewel in the crown of the French Navy and the largest western European warship currently in commission, has 26 fighter jets, more than doubling France's strike capacity in the US-led mission against IS group.
France and Moscow coordinating
France already has six Mirage and six Rafale jets stationed in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
A military source said their missions would fly over Turkey or Jordan to avoid Syrian anti-aircraft defences.
To avoid crossing paths with Russian planes, France is coordinating with Moscow via the US coalition headquarters in Qatar.
French and Russian naval commanders began exchanging information at the end of last week ahead of the aircraft carrier’s deployment to the eastern Mediterranean, where Russia has several ships.
Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed his navy last week to work with the French "as allies".
On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron offered Hollande the use of Britain’s Akrotiri RAF base on Cyprus.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)