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Friday, September 19, 2014, 18:26

France says it launches first air strikes in Iraq

By Reuters
 France says it launches first air strikes in Iraq

French President Francois Hollande (R) and Iraq's President Fuad Masum shake hands during the opening of an international conference bringing together about 30 countries to discuss how to cooperate in the fight against Islamic State militants in Paris Sept 15, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHRISTIAN HARTMANN)

PARIS - France said on Friday its jets had launched strikes inside Iraq for the first time since the country promised to join military action against Islamic State insurgents who have taken over parts of the country.

"This morning at 9:40 (0740 GMT) our Rafale jets launched a first strike against a logistics depot of the terrorists," President Francois Hollande's office said a statement issued shortly after the raids.

The target in northeast Iraq was totally destroyed, said the statement, adding that there would be further operations "in the coming days".

Hollande told a news conference on Thursday that French air strikes were imminent and would take place once reconnaissance flights had identified targets. He said the military action would be limited to Iraq, and no ground troops would be sent.

France has expressed its willingness to be part of the military, political and financial coalition being created by the United States to defeat the Islamic State militants controlling parts of northern Iraq and Syria.

On Monday, Paris hosted an international conference attended by the five UN Security Council permanent members, European and Arab states, and representatives of the EU, Arab League and United Nations. The meeting was intended to coordinate a global strategy against Islamic State group.

France began its first reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday.

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