International desk – France has begun air strikes against Islamic State, a radical Islamist group responsible for a number of attacks in Europe, in Iraq from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, BBC reports.
A number of Rafale fighter planes took off from the carrier early on Friday.
A news agency quoted an officer on board, who said the planes would take part in an attack on Mosul, an IS stronghold in Iraq.
The Charles de Gaulle, France’s only aircraft carrier, was sent to the region earlier in September.
Iraqi forces have gained significant ground in the battle for Mosul, which was occupied by IS in June 2014, and are expected to launch an offensive to retake the city soon.
French radio station RTL reported (in French) that 24 aircraft will take part in today’s operation, with a sortie every three minutes, on average.
It also said the fighters were armed with four 250kg laser-guided bombs each.
This is the ship’s third mission with the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, since February 2015, when France stepped up its military operations following the attacks in Paris.
The Charles de Gaulle is a 38,000-tonne ship powered by two nuclear reactors. It has more than 1,900 crew members, and is 260 metres (850ft) long, according to BBC.