France to send heavy weapons to Iraq Army

Paris: France will send artillery to Iraqi Army next month to support local forces in their battle against the Islamic State, President Francois Hollande announced on Friday. "I took the decision as part of the anti-Daesh coalition to make weapons available to Iraqi forces. They will be there next month," Xinhua quoted the President as saying. Speaking after hosting a security meeting, he also pledged to send Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the region by the end of September. This will "allow us to intensify strikes against terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq by using our Rafale jets", he added. Hollande noted the artillery support for the Iraqi forces would not change the nature of France's military operation in the region, ruling out any plan to deploy French troops on the ground. "We support our allies in Iraq and Syria but we are not deploying ground troops." France was one of the first European countries to join the US-led coalition against the IS. Its fighter jets have bombed the group in Iraq since 2014. After growing terror threats, Paris decided by the end of September 2015 to strike Daesh targets in Syria where hundreds of French nationals have been recruited and could return home to carry out terror attacks.