Less than 24 hours after President François Hollande announced he had approved a request from the government in Baghdad for air support, at least two French Rafale planes attacked the insurgents’ positions.
A statement from Hollande’s office read: “This morning, at 9.40am, our Rafale aircraft carried out a first attack against a logistics centre of the terrorist organisation Daesh [Isis] in the north-east of Iraq. The target was hit and entirely destroyed. Other operations will be carried out in the days to come.”
The target was near Tall Mouss in the Zoumar sector of northern Iraq. The French aircraft are based at Al-Dhafra, near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
France’s defence ministry said the destroyed building, containing vehicles, weapons and fuel, had been hit four times. “We were able to do this thanks to the reconnaissance missions we have been carrying out since Monday. The mission was carried out in direct coordination with the Iraqi authorities and our allies in the region,” it said. “The threat from this jihadist group is unusual because of its size, its weaponry, its determination and its actions. Our goal is to contribute to peace and security in Iraq and to weaken the terrorists.”
Hollande’s office said similar operations would continue in the coming days.
The US is marshalling a coalition of almost 30 countries – western allies as well as countries in the Middle East – to confront the militant group.
The US president, Barack Obama, previously praised Hollande’s decision to join the campaign against Isis, also called Isil. “Today the United States continues to build a broad international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as Isil. As part of the air campaign France will join in strikes against Isil in Iraq,” he said.
“As one of our oldest and closest allies, France is a strong partner in our efforts against terrorism and we are pleased that French and American service members will once again work together on behalf of our shared security and our shared values.”
Obama has also authorised the US military to conduct raids in Syria, where Isis controls a large area, but none has yet been carried out and allies, including France, have not said they would take part.
France has been conducting reconnaissance flights over Iraq since Monday and has dispatched weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Isis.