France deploys aircraft carrier to support Syria raids
VERSAILLES, France—France’s president said Monday its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier would be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to boost operations in Syria as Paris intensifies a bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) group there.
The latest move follows attacks in the French capital, claimed by the jihadist group, which left 129 people dead and hundreds more wounded.
“The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will set off on Thursday for the eastern Mediterranean, which will triple our capacity to take action,” Francois Hollande told lawmakers in Versailles, outside Paris.
The vessel, the flagship of the French navy, will take a few days to reach its destination, near Syria or Lebanon, whereas it was not due to reach the Gulf—its original destination—until next month.
With 26 fighter jets on board, the nuclear-powered carrier will dramatically increase France’s capacity to carry out air strikes, and adds to the 12 French planes currently stationed in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan overall.
With a total of 38 fighters, France will be able to “intensify its operations in Syria,” Hollande said following Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris.
French warplanes on Sunday conducted strikes against the jihadists’ de facto capital in northern Syria.
In the biggest raid since the first French strikes in Syria in late September, 10 fighter bombers dropped 20 bombs on an IS command post and training centre.
“We will continue the strikes in the weeks to come … There will be no respite and no truce,” Hollande told French lawmakers.
“France is at war … We are in a war against jihadist terrorism that threatens the entire world,” he said.
The Charles de Gaulle did a two-month stint in the Gulf from February, weeks after Islamist attacks in Paris left 17 dead, from where strikes against ISIS in Iraq were carried out, before returning to its base in the French port of Toulon.