France has launched its first airstrike in Iraq against the Islamic State. Reuters reports:
“This morning at 9:40 (0740 GMT) our Rafale jets launched a first strike against a logistics depot of the terrorists,” President Francois Hollande’s office said a statement issued shortly after the raids.
The target in northeast Iraq was totally destroyed, said the statement, adding that there would be further operations “in the coming days”.
Hollande told a news conference on Thursday that French air strikes were imminent and would take place once reconnaissance flights had identified targets. He said the military action would be limited to Iraq, and no ground troops would be sent.
Meanwhile the US continues to target the Islamic State via the air. Three strikes were launched on Wednesday and Thursday near Mosul and southwest of Baghdad (likely in Jurf al Sakhar), according to CENTCOM:
U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct two airstrikes Wednesday and Thursday.
In total, one airstrike near an ISIL training camp southeast of Mosul destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle, two ISIL-occupied buildings and a large ISIL ground unit. Another airstrike southeast of Baghdad damaged an ISIL ammunition stockpile. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.
These strikes were conducted under authority to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, support humanitarian efforts, and assist Iraqi forces in their offensive against ISIL terrorists.
U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 176 airstrikes across Iraq.
As the US plans to ramp up operations against the Islamic State inside Iraq, The New York Times notes that President Barack Obama himself will have to approve the deployment of all tactical-level air controllers who are embedded with Iraqi forces on the ground that are requested by US military:
In fact, General Austin said that air controllers would be needed. “He shares my view that there will be circumstances when we think that’ll be necessary, but we haven’t encountered one yet,” General Dempsey said of General Austin.
But the White House made clear on Wednesday that requests to use the advisers to call in airstrikes to provide tactical advice on the battlefield to Iraqi units would need to be approved by the president on a case-by-case basis.
In weighing such requests, the White House may have to choose between the increased risk to American personnel and the danger that without the use of advisers on the battlefield, the counteroffensive may stall.
Correction: The Obama administration must approve the deployment of each air controller, not each airstrike. The post was updated to reflect this.
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