France wasted no time leaping feet first into the campaign to destroy ISIS. French bomber jets smashed an ISIS position in northern Iraq on Friday, less than a day after French President Francois Hollande said his country would help the government in Baghdad fight back against the terrorist group that has seized large portions of Iraqi territory.
An Iraqi military spokesperson, Qassim al-Moussawi, reported that the French bombers struck four times and killed dozens of ISIS fighters.
“This morning at 9:40 a.m. [Paris time] our Rafale aircraft carried out a first attack against a logistics center of the terrorist organization Daesh in the northeast of Iraq,” said a statement from the French government. “The target was hit and entirely destroyed. Other operations will be carried out in the days to come.”
“Daesh” is the Arabic name for ISIS.
The French bombers took off from a base in the United Arab Emirates, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.
They bombed an ISIS location near a place called Tal Mus, between the cities of Mosul and Zumar, a Kurdish military official said.
“We are very happy that France started its raids,” Kurdish spokesperson Helgut Hekmat told the French Press Agency.
The French military said it had been running reconnaissance flights over the ISIS-controlled area since Monday, and carried out the bombings by coordinating with the Iraqi military.
Britain has also reportedly flown reconnaissance missions, seeking ISIS targets in Iraq. But until Friday’s bombing raid by France, only the United States had actually carried out attacks on ISIS in Iraq. U.S. bombers have attacked ISIS positions more than 170 times since President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on August 8.
Since then Obama has struggled to assemble an allied coalition to, as he has said, “degrade and destroy” ISIS in Iraq, as well as in Syria. On Thursday, the U.S. Congress gave a green light to Obama’s plan to arm “moderate” Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS there.
That France became the first country to join the United States in striking at ISIS is significant because the country refused to support U.S. President George W. Bush in his invasion of Iraq back in 2003 — the war which ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and cleared the way for the chaos that grips the country today, with domestic insurgents and the ISIS extremists causing violence an instability on a daily basis there.
France, however, ruled out sending ground troops into the fight against ISIS — and also said that it would confine its strikes to Iraq only, refusing to support Obama’s plan to hit ISIS inside Syria.
[Image: French Defense Ministry]