France to deploy more fighter jets, warship, in IS fight

The French military said on Wednesday it would deploy three more fighter jets and a warship to the Middle East to boost support to Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State jihadists.

AFP| Updated: Oct 02, 2014, 00:50 AM IST

Paris: The French military said on Wednesday it would deploy three more fighter jets and a warship to the Middle East to boost support to Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State jihadists.

The warplanes will be sent to France's Al Dhafra military base in the United Arab Emirates, from where it has launched two rounds of air strikes as part of a US-led coalition battling IS fighters.

"The French equipment will thus be increased to nine Rafale" fighter jets, said a military statement.

The reinforcement "aims to increase aerial support of Iraqi forces, in terms of intelligence gathering and armed reconnaissance."

The frigate will be deployed to the Gulf allowing for "a naval means capable of participating, in coordination with our allies, in air traffic control of all means present in the zone."

The presidency had announced earlier the country would beef up its military deployment.

A source in the defence ministry said the planned measures could also see more troops sent to join the 1,000 soldiers at the Al Dhafra military base, and support increased to ground forces such as the Kurdish peshmerga.

Paris has already delivered arms to the peshmerga forces.

Five European countries have committed aircraft to Iraq -- Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands -- but Britain and France are the only ones so far to have carried out strikes.

Their aerial campaign has been limited to Iraq, while US aircraft are also targeting Syria.

US aircraft have flown roughly 4,100 sorties in the air war against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria since August, including surveillance flights, refuelling runs and bombing raids, a military officer said Monday.

The US-led coalition has attracted dozens of countries, though only a handful of Arab allies -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- are participating in the strikes on Syrian soil.