On Friday, France carried out its first airstrike against Islamic State militants in Iraq, making France the first country to publicly join the United States in fighting back against the militants via airstrike.
French President François Hollande announced that the airstrikes destroyed their intended target, a logistics depot controlled by the militants, and vowed that France will continue to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Hollande released a statement regarding the airstrikes, and using the name “Daesh” when referring to the Islamic State militants.
“This morning at 9:40, our Rafale planes carried out a first strike against a logistics depot of the terrorist organisation Daesh in north-east Iraq. The objective was hit and completely destroyed,” the statement said.
Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Iraq, said that four French airstrikes hit the town of Zumar, and killed dozens of extremist fighters.
“Other operations will follow in the coming days with the same goal – to weaken this terrorist organization and come to the aid of the Iraqi authorities,” said Hollande. “There are always risks in taking up a responsibility. I reduced the risks to a minimum.”
Yahoo News reported that Hollande himself visited Iraq last week, making him the “most high-profile leader to do so since jihadists stormed across the country.”
On Thursday, Hollande told reporters that he had “decided to respond to the request of the Iraqi authorities to offer aerial support.”
“As soon as we have identified targets, we will act – within a short time-frame,” said Hollande. “We will not go further than that. There will be no ground troops and we will only intervene in Iraq.”
According to NBC News, France’s involvement in Iraq is significant, due to the fact that France was “among the most vocal critics of U.S. President George W. Bush’s military action in 2003 that toppled Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.”