France to carry out airstrikes in Iraq
PARIS (AP) — France has agreed to carry out airstrikes requested by Iraq to bolster its fight against the Islamic State group’s fighters who’ve captured swathes of the country, President Francois Hollande said Thursday.
Hollande stressed that France wouldn’t go beyond airstrikes in support of the Iraqi military or Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and wouldn’t attack targets in Syria, where the Islamic State group has also captured territory.
He said he would inform the parliament of the planned action “as soon as the first strikes — that is to say, soon.”
Speaking during his twice-yearly news conference, Hollande said he agreed to Iraq’s request for air support at a meeting of his top defense and security advisers earlier in the day.
“This morning I decided to respond to the request of Iraqi authorities to provide air support,” Hollande said. “We won’t go beyond this. There won’t be troops on the ground. And we will act only in Iraq.”
Following a request by Iraqi authorities, French jets began flying reconnaissance missions over the country Monday, and have so far carried out four using Rafale fighter aircraft and an ATL2 surveillance plane, military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said. He provided no further details.