France deploys aircraft carrier in Gulf for ISIL fight
MANAMA - Agence France-Presse
A French Navy Rafale fighter jet sits on the deck of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sailing in the Gulf on February 22, 2015. AFP PhotoFrance deployed an aircraft carrier in the Gulf on Feb. 23 as part of the US-led military campaign against the Islamic Stateof Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a defence ministry official said.
"The integration of the Charles de Gaulle in the operation... (in Iraq) begins this morning," a member of Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's staff told AFP as his entourage made its way to the carrier.
The first Rafale fighter jet took off in the morning from the Charles de Gaulle as it sailed about 200 kilometres (120 miles) off the coast north of Bahrain in the direction of Iraq.
The warship's deployment will cut in half the time it takes for the planes to reach Iraq for strikes against ISIL from their base in the United Arab Emirates.
France launched Operation Chammal in support of the US-led coalition against ISIL in September.
It has nine Rafale and six Mirage fighters operating in Iraq from bases in Jordan and the UAE, along with a maritime patrol and a refuelling aircraft.