France to boost military presence in fight against IS

1st October 2014, Comments 0 comments

France said Wednesday it will beef up its military deployment in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq being waged by a US-led coalition.

"The president has decided to reinforce the military presence engaged" in the battle, said a statement from the presidency, without specifying what this would amount to.

A source in the defense ministry said the planned measures could see more troops sent to France's Al Dhafra military base in the United Arab Emirates, and support increased to ground forces such as the Kurdish peshmerga.

Paris has already delivered arms to the peshmerga forces.

A source close to the presidency said the reinforcement would take place "through all means and in all domains in order to be effective and reach the set objectives".

France has six Rafale fighter jets and just under 1,000 soldiers based in the United Arab Emirates.

It has carried out two rounds of air strikes in Iraq against the extremist group which has seized vast swaths of land across Iraq and Syria in recent months.

Britain said Wednesday it had carried out its first strikes in the campaign.

US aircraft have flown roughly 4,100 sorties in the air war against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria since August, including surveillance flights, refuelling runs and bombing raids, a military officer said Monday.

The US-led coalition has attracted dozens of countries, though only a handful of Arab allies -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- are participating in the strikes on Syrian soil.

Five European countries have committed aircraft to Iraq only -- Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands -- but Britain and France are the only ones so far to have carried out strikes.

© 2014 AFP

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