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Anti-IS coalition takes shape as France carries out air strikes

More than a decade after France refused to back the 2003 Iraq invasion, France becomes the first country to join the US aerial campaign in the country
Two Rafale fighter jets flying on a reconnaissance mission over Iraq after taking off from the Al-Dhafra base in the UAE (AFP)

France carried out its first air strike against the Islamic State group in Iraq Friday, boosting US-led efforts to unite the world against the growing threat posed by the militants.

More than a decade after Paris famously refused to back the invasion of Iraq, France became the first nation to join the US aerial campaign in the war-torn country.

"This morning at 9:40, our Rafale planes carried out a first strike against a logistics depot of the terrorist organisation Daesh (IS)," President Francois Hollande said.

The statement from his office said the target was in northeastern Iraq but did specify exactly where, only adding: "The objective was hit and completely destroyed."

US President Barack Obama praised Hollande for the pledge to join the airstrikes that Obama said would "degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL."

Hollande said the Islamist group had been able to grow partly because of international inertia and that the world was confronting "unremitting brutality." 

Hollande also stressed that boots on the ground were not an option and cautioned against the perils of extending intervention into neighbouring Syria and seeming to support the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

France has already conducted reconnaissance flights over Iraq and dispatched weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the IS group. 

Aside from France, none of the other several dozen countries marshalled by the US to confront IS has been willing to commit to direct military action, most limiting themselves to providing humanitarian aid or military equipment for local Iraqi forces.

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