PARIS – France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier has started military operations against Islamic State in Iraq, a French army source said Monday.
“The carrier and its naval group has officially started missions as part of its Chammal operation in Iraq,” the source said, referring to the name of the mission.
A second source said the carrier will be engaged for several weeks.
The Le Figaro newspaper, which is accompanying Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian ahead of an official announcement he is set to make on the carrier Monday, said the first reconnaissance and possible airstrikes in Iraq took place in the morning.
France was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition in airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State insurgents, who have also taken control of large parts of neighboring Syria during the course of the civil war there. However, it has ruled out striking the group in Syria.
The carrier is accompanied by an attack submarine, several frigates, including a British anti-submarine frigate and a refueling ship.
France has nine fighter jets, a maritime patrol aircraft and a refueling plane at its base in the United Arab Emirates as part of its Iraq mission. It also operates six Mirage fighter jets from Jordan.
With the Charles de Gaulle, there are now more than 3,000 French military personnel involved in the operation.
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