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Middle East

French jet fighters launch mission against IS in Mosul

media A Rafale Marine fighter on the flight deck of the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

French fighter jets took off from the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier for an operation against the Islamic State (IS) armed group on Friday morning. It was unclear whether they would carry out air strikes or reconnaissance.

Eight Rafale jets took off from the carrier in the eastern Mediterranean, according to the AFP news agency.

The Charles De Gaulle is on its third mission since February 2015 as part of the US-led alliance combating IS in Iraq and Syria.

French and allied forces are providing support for the Iraqi military, which hopes to recapture Mosul by the end of the year.

IS took the country's second-largest city in June 2014 but Iraqi forces have regained significant ground this year.

The Charles De Gaulle's present mission is to end in late October, according to French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

It will then undergo a major overhaul that should last 18 months.

French forces joined the fight against IS in September 2014:

  • France has 36 Rafale jet fighters in the region, 12 in Jordan and the UAE and 24 on board the Charles De Gaulle;

  • The French air force has carried out 857 air strikes against IS, five percent of the coalition's bombing missions, hitting 1,486 targets, according to the General Staff;

  • About 4,000 French troops are currently in the region, 2,900 of them on the Charles De Gaulle and its support ships, 500 on air bases in Jordan and the UAE and 500 acting as military instructors in Iraq;

  • The French army has just placed four Caesar artillery guns at the Qayyarah air base 65 km south of Mosul to "support the advance of Iraqi forces to 60 or 80 km from the city of Mosul and contribute to the surrounding of the city," according to Le Drian, but the "150-180 troops present will on no account participate in direct action initiatives against Mosul".

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