France is ready to provide military support with airstrikes against jihadists in Iraq 1209141

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Defence & Security News - France

 
 
Friday, September 12, 2014 02:54 PM
 
France is ready to provide military support with airstrikes against jihadists in Iraq.
French President Francois Hollande told Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi Friday his country was willing to step up its military support against jihadists. France has said it is prepared to take part in air strikes against the militants in Iraq "if necessary", and hosts an international conference on Iraq on Monday.
     
French President Francois Hollande told Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi Friday his country was willing to step up its military support against jihadists. France has said it is prepared to take part in air strikes against the militants in Iraq "if necessary", and hosts an international conference on Iraq on Monday.
© French President François Hollande is welcomed by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum upon his arrival in Baghdad. (photo: Elysée Twitter account)

     
French President Francois Hollande is visiting Iraq as his country prepares possible airstrikes with a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State extremists who have seized territory around the region.

France has been supplying arms to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State jihadist group since August and has also been flying in humanitarian supplies.

At a meeting in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, 10 Arab states including Saudi Arabia "agreed to do their share in the comprehensive fight" against IS, said a statement after a meeting Thursday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Arab counterparts.

Along with the Saudis, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon are Arab parties to the coalition agreement.

In a sign of a new campaign, the Pentagon plans to base U.S. warplanes inside Iraq for the first time since Obama authorized air strikes on Aug. 7 to protect Americans and to support humanitarian missions. The aircraft will operate from the northern city of Irbil, officials said.

The Pentagon would not identify the type or number of planes, describing them only as "manned and armed" aircraft for intelligence and surveillance. That fits the AC-130 gunship, which carry sophisticated cameras and weapons that can bring devastating fire on ground targets.

Basing the gunships closer to Islamic State positions in Iraq will free U.S. drones, which have launched many of the 156 airstrikes so far, to increase intelligence-gathering flights over Syria, U.S. officials said.

Several hundred U.S special operations troops will also advise Iraqi security forces, embedding "at the brigade level and above," according to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

 

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