French Rafale jets targeted and destroyed a “logistics depot” in north-east Iraq on Friday morning and will follow with more operations in the next few days in order to “weaken Daesh and restore Iraqi sovereignty”, French President François Hollande said in a statement on Friday.
The strikes will be coordinated with Iraqi armed forces and the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters), he said, but there will be no boots on the ground. The United Nations General Assembly will discuss the matter on Tuesday, announced Hollande, who will also attend.
The UN Security Council will address the problem of citizens of countries leaving for Iraq to join militants. France hosted a meeting last week in Paris, where international players came together against ISIS.
This week, the French Parliament adopted several tough anti-terror measures. Authorities will be able to ban suspects from leaving French territory and take action against “lone rangers” under a new law on “individual terror enterprise”. Supported by a large majority, these laws have been criticised by some as posing a threat to civil liberties.
France had strongly opposed the Iraq invasion against Saddam Hussein in 2003 but has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy lately. In 2011, military action was taken in Libya under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. French troops were deployed in Malin in 2013 by President Hollande to fight extremists with Al-Qaeda links.
Many believe Hollande is trying to divert attention from France’s domestic woes due to high unemployment and stagnant growth. Recent opinion polls show he was the most unpopular President on record.
The US has already been carrying out air strikes on Daesh targets in Iraq since August. The UK hasn't participated in air raids so far but has been conducting reconnaissance flights over Iraq.