World Bulletin / News Desk
"The carrier and its naval group has officially started missions as part of its Chammal operation in Iraq," the source told Reuters in a reference to the name of the mission.
A second source said the carrier would be engaged for several weeks.
Le Figaro newspaper, which is accompanying Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian ahead of an official announcement he is set to make on the carrier on Monday, said the first reconnaissance and possible air strikes in Iraq took place in the morning.
France was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition in air strikes in Iraq against Islamic State insurgents, who have also taken control of large parts of neighbouring Syria during the course of the civil war there. However, it has ruled out striking the group in Syria.
The carrier is accompanied by an attack submarine, several frigates, including a British anti-submarine frigate and a refueling ship.
France has nine fighter jets, a maritime patrol aircraft and a refuelling plane at its base in the United Arab Emirates as part of its Iraq mission. It also operates six Mirage fighter jets from Jordan.
With the Charles de Gaulle, there are now more than 3,000 French military personnel involved in the operation.
French President Hollande told military personnel in mid-January that the Charlie Hebdo massacre carried out by extremists “justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier.”
The carrier is the largest Western European warship currently in commission, and is France’s only nuclear-powered surface vessel. The ship can carry 20 to 25 aircraft, including Super Etendard strike fighter jets, Rafale M multirole fighter jets and Aster missiles.
Last Mod: 23 Şubat 2015, 12:26