French jets destroyed an Islamic State depot in northeast Iraq today and further strikes are planned, President Francois Hollande said in a statement.
France becomes the first country to join the air campaign against the militant group that occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq. U.S. planes have struck Islamic State targets more than 100 times since August.
“The target was hit and entirely destroyed,” Hollande said today in an e-mailed statement. “Other operations will follow in the coming days.”
Hollande told a press conference in Paris yesterday that the attacks were imminent, after being approved in a restricted cabinet meeting. France won’t send ground troops and won’t hit targets in Syria, Hollande said yesterday. President Barack Obama reaffirmed this week that he won’t send American troops into combat in Iraq.
At a Sept. 15 meeting with Iraqi officials in Paris, 25 countries signed a statement saying they’re “committed to supporting the new Iraqi government in its fight, by any means necessary, including appropriate military assistance.” They didn’t pledge any concrete new measures.
While no Arab nations have publicly committed to military action, several have told the U.S. privately they’re willing to join in air strikes in Iraq and in Syria, said a U.S. State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
France began delivering arms to Iraqi Kurds last month and has carried out reconnaissance flights over the territory this week.
France’s parliament will debate the Iraq attacks next week, Hollande said in today’s statement. Under France’s constitution, the president can order French forces into action but must inform parliament.