France continues to support anti-IS operations in Syria, Iraq – military

French military forces, both air and ground deployments, are continuing operations against so-called Islamic State pockets of resistance in Syria and Iraq, but mainly in a support role to local forces, according to the French Defence Ministry.

A document published in Paris Monday indicated that Coalition air forces, including that of France, have increased activity during May to prepare the ground for local Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to attack IS positions in northeast Syria.

“In this framework, the number of strikes carried out by the Coalition in May rose by 123 percent compared with the level in April,” the document indicated.

The SDF forces are leading the assault against IS in northeast Syria but the Coalition has softened up the terrorist group’s positions and also provided the Syrian local forces with valuable intelligence, the defence source said.

It also noted that the military operation in northeast Syria “is coordinated with Iraqi security forces” which have bolstered their presence on the border area to prevent IS militants and fighters from escaping into Iraq.

French ground forces are also active in training and supporting Iraqi security forces inside Iraq, notably in the Al-Anbar and Hamrim Hills zones, in addition to north of Ninewa and in the western Jazira areas.

France’s “Wagram” artillery task force in Iraq has been supporting the offensive against the last pockets of IS resistance in the Euphrates Valley, the document indicated.

French Special Forces and artillery batteries have been deployed in Iraq since the re-taking of Mosul and they continue to work in support of Iraqi ground forces.

The “Wagram” artillery deployment joined the latest Iraqi offensive against IS on May 1 and has carried out 111 barrages since then, 16 of them in the past week, the source said.

Since its deployment in Iraq, a total of 1,770 artillery barrages have been carried out by “Wagram,” which is part of the overall “Shamal” operation by French forces, which includes aircraft deployed in the UAE and Jordan, and occasionally from the French aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle.” In the past week of air operations, French planes from Jordan and the UAE have carried out 20 sorties, mainly for reconnaissance missions.

Since the beginning of their deployment in September 2014, French war planes have made 8,115 sorties and made 1,450 strikes against IS forces, neutralising 2,241 targets, the defence report said.

Source: Kuwait News Agency