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US, French military chiefs meet in Gulf to review anti-IS air strikes

The Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, currently stationed off Bahrain
The Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, currently stationed off Bahrain AFP/Phillippe Wojazer

The US’s and France’s top military officers were to meet on France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf on Sunday to review the air war on the Islamic State (IS) armed group in Iraq. The unusual move is a sign of improved ties between the French and American militaries.

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General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his French counterpart, General Pierre de Villiers, were due to land on the Charles de Gaulle on Sunday in waters north of Bahrain, officials said.

Apart from the US, France has the largest number of aircraft and troops deployed in the US-led actions against IS, although it has only agreed to carry out air strikes on the group in Iraq.

The Charles de Gaulle, which is nuclear-powered and France’s only aircraft carrier, deployed to the Gulf last month and has 12 Rafale and nine Super Etendard fighter-jets on board.

France also has fighter-jets at airfields in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan but planes can reach Iraq in half the time from the Charles de Gaulle.

Out of 2,700 air strikes against IS since August, non-US partner countries have carried out 20 per cent of all raids in Iraq and 10 per cent in Syria, US military officers say.

 France opposed the 2003 Gulf War but President François Hollande's government has increased cooperation with the US in its response to armed Islamists in the Middle East and Africa.
 

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