France launches air strikes in Syria and Iraq from newly-deployed aircraft carrier


France launched its first air strikes against the Islamic State organisation (IS) on Monday night from its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. The carrier was deployed in the eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris.

The strikes targeted IS positions in the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Mosul, followed by air raids in the Syrian city of Raqa.

“Two air force Mirage 2000s were engaged in the mission [in Iraq],” the Defence Ministry announced on Monday night. “Simultaneously four Rafale Marines from the aircraft carrier joined them over Syria.”

The Iraq strikes “were to support ground forces that were pushing against troops of the Islamic State organisation,” said army chief General Pierre de Villiers. Strikes in Syria “destroyed an active site occupied by terrorist fighters in Raqa,” added the ministry.

Earlier this week, French President François Hollande met with British Prime Minister David Cameron to rally his support to join the coalition striking IS in Syria.

Cameron said he would make the case to parliament on Thursday and offered France the use of strategically-located British airbases in Cyprus to facilitate air strikes and refuelling French jets.

Hollande is completing this week a series of meetings with UN Security Council members “to help mobilise nations to eliminate IS” and is to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

On Friday, the Security Council authorised countries to “take all necessary measures” to fight IS.