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French air strikes on Iraq begin

Iraqi President Fuad Masum with France's François Hollande at this week's conference on his country in Paris
Iraqi President Fuad Masum with France's François Hollande at this week's conference on his country in Paris Reuters/Christian Hartmann

France has carried out its first air-strikes in Iraq, just hours after President François Hollande announced the country’s participation in the US-led offensive against the Islamic State armed group.

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Four French planes took part in the mission at 9.40am, hitting a logistical depot near Mosul that was “completely destroyed”, a presidential statement announced on Friday.

“Other operations will follow in the next few days,” it said.

French planes, based at al-Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, have been flying reconnaissance missions to identify targets since the beginning of the week.

France has six Rafale fighters, several transport and supply planes and 750 troops stationed at al-Dhafra.

The air-strikes are being carried out in coordination with the Iraqi authorities and French allies in the region, the defence ministry says.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum requested France to launch air strikes in a letter to Hollande, the French presidency said on Friday.

US President Barack Obama welcomed French participation after Hollande made his announcement on Thursday.

French participation in the offensive is expected to be limited, given that French troops are already involved in action in the Central African Republic and Mali.

A car-bomb and a motorcycle-bomb killed 16 people in Baghdad and Kirkuk on Friday, following the deaths of 28 people in Baghdad on Thursday.

Islamic State fighters have withdrawn from positions at Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria because of the threat of air strikes but are reported to have captured several village sin the north and to be trying to capture Ain al-Arab, the town with the third-largest Kurdish population in the country.
 

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