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France sends Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to aid military operations in Iraq

France sends Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to aid military operations in Iraq

France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is ready to be used to support military operations against Islamic State in Iraq, French President Francois Hollande told military personnel aboard the vessel on Wednesday. The warship is to work in cooperation with the coalition forces.

RT reports: In a speech onboard the aircraft carrier on Wednesday, Hollande told military personnel that that the Charlie Hebdo massacre carried out by Islamic extremists last week “justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier.”

“Thanks to the Charles de Gaulle we will have intelligence … we may also conduct operations in Iraq,” Hollande said.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the flagship of the French fleet, and is currently cruising off France’s southern coast in the Mediterranean.

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.

The ship’s deployment, during which it will provide airstrikes against Islamic State militants, is expected to last until May at the earliest.