France’s President François Hollande has announced a decision to increase the number of air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Addressing a group of ambassadors on January 21, Mr Hollande said: “The pace of the interventions will be accelerated and France will play its role in this.”
In the wake of terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, Mr Hollande had raised the military’s operating budget for this year to 32 billion euros from the 31.4 billion euros originally planned. The planned cuts were reversed and added a net 2,300 jobs, with an eventual goal of 77,000 operational soldiers instead of the 66,000 originally planned in a 2013 “white paper”. France has one of the most capable and powerful militaries in the European Union.
Recent air strikes against the IS have included the bombing by the US of a bank in Mosul linked to the terrorist group, with a video released by the Pentagon on 15 January showing the destruction of the building followed by paper, believed to be bank notes, floating above the explosion. Five people were believed to have been killed in the strike, although it has not been confirmed whether or not they were civilians. The US also stated its intention to continue targeting the IS’s financial stronghold on the assumption that the group will lose its ability to pay fighters and destabilise.
U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian held a meeting with five other coalition partners on January 19 to discuss what each could do to intensify the fight against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
Russia has also committed to air strikes against IS. it has carried out more than 5,000 so far but has been criticised for failing to effectively target the group and is believed to have killed a number of civilians during its attacks. Moscow, however, has denied these claims of killing civilians during the attacks.
France is reputed to have the most capable and powerful military in the European Union. France increased its bombardment against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. It has increased strikes from the deck of the Charles de Gaulle, the carrier that has been central in the fight, most recently being the only one in the Persian Gulf after an American carrier had left temporarily.
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