France launches first air strikes against ISIS militants
France has launched its first air strikes against Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq, the office of President Francois Hollande says.
A statement said planes had attacked an ISIS depot in north-east Iraq, and there would be more raids in the coming days.
The US has carried out more than 170 air strikes against the jihadist group in Iraq since mid-August.
ISIS remains in control of dozens of cities and towns in Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a caliphate.
Friday’s air strike comes a day after President Francois Hollande said he had agreed to an Iraqi request for air support, but it would only target IS in Iraq and not in neighboring Syria.
Francois Hollande also insisted that he would not send ground troops.
France had already been carrying out reconnaissance flights over Iraq and providing weapons to Kurdish fighters in the north.
Francois Hollande’s office said Rafale planes had carried out the attack and “the objective was hit and completely destroyed”.
It did not give details on the type of material at the depot, or its exact location.
However, Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the Iraqi military, said four French air strikes had hit the town of Zumar, killing dozens of militants, AP news agency reported.
On September 15, France – which opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq – hosted an international conference on the crisis.
It saw 26 countries pledge their commitment to supporting the new Iraqi government in its fight against ISIS “by any means necessary, including appropriate military assistance”.
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