France to supply Iraq arms for ISIS fight

PARIS • France will supply weapons to Iraq to support its fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), President Francois Hollande has said, ruling out any troop deployment in the country.

"This morning at the defence council, I took the decision as part of the anti-Daesh coalition to make weapons available to Iraqi forces," Mr Hollande said yesterday, using another name for ISIS.

"They will be there next month," he added, following the meeting with a handful of ministers and the heads of the security forces.

An aide to the President said the weaponry would include artillery batteries and that France would also send military advisers to train Iraqi forces in using them.

Mr Hollande said he would also be sending the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the region "at the end of September".

The carrier "will allow us to intensify strikes against terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq using our Rafale jets", he added.

Mr Hollande insisted that the move did not change the nature of France's military involvement in the region. "We support our allies in Iraq and Syria but we are not deploying ground troops," he stressed.

He also pledged to act "firmly" against terrorists without losing sight of the country's democratic ideals. "We need national unity and cohesion in the face of terrorists," he said. "To dodge the Constitution would be to lose the fight against terrorism."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'France to supply Iraq arms for ISIS fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe