France launches fresh strikes against IS in Iraq

French fighter jets have carried out a third round of air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in support of Iraqi ground forces, the defence ministry said on Monday.

France launches fresh strikes against IS in Iraq
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters hold a position at a frontline in Yangije in September. Photo: JM Lopez/AFP

Two Rafale jets on Sunday destroyed two pick-up trucks belonging to the extremist group, which has seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria.

"During an armed reconnaissance mission in the Tikrit region 200 km (124 miles) north of Baghdad, mobile targets were transmitted to flight crews," the ministry said on its website.

"After they were identified and confirmed as hostile by the Rafale pilots, they were targeted with three laser-guided GBU 12 bombs."

France carried out its first strikes under Operation Chammal, on September 19th, after joining a US-led coalition battling the jihadists. A second round took place on September 25th.

Fighter jets previously destroyed a logistics warehouse and four hangars containing military equipment used by IS militants.

France has nine fighter jets stationed at its Al Dhafra military base in the United Arab Emirates.

The United States first launched strikes in Iraq on August 8th and widened its campaign on September 23rd to include Syria, where the IS group has its headquarters.

So far, the coalition has attracted dozens of countries, though only a handful of Arab allies — Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — are participating in the strikes on Syria.

Five European countries have committed aircraft to Iraq only — Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands — but Britain and France are the only ones so far to have carried out strikes.

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France charges jihadi with murder in IS territory

France on Friday charged a man with murder days after his expulsion from Turkey, holding him in custody over crimes alleged to have taken place in jihadist-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.

France charges jihadi with murder in IS territory
People walk under a billboard erected by the Islamic State (IS) group as part of a campaign in the IS controlled Syrian city of Raqqa in 2014. Photo: Raqa Media Center / AFP
Using the pseudonym “Abou Salman al Faransi”, 26-year-old Othman Garrido is believed to have arrived in the region in 2012, where anti-terror prosecutors (PNAT) say he committed “murder in connection with a terrorist undertaking” and joined a “terrorist conspiracy”.
He is believed to have played an important role in and have information on the French jihadist scene.
A judge on Friday ordered him jailed provisionally after he spent the week in police custody.
“Based on photographs of abuses where he is visible”, Garrido “was likely involved in other murders in Iraq and Syria” being probed in a separate investigation, PNAT said.
Prosecutors suspect him of three murders in total, although they have not been able to precisely date the crimes.
France has had an arrest warrant out since 2016 for Garrido, a native of southern city Montpellier.
Turkish forces captured him near the Syrian border in July, and handed him over under a Paris-Ankara deal covering the return of French jihadists.
A youth court sentenced Garrido in 2017 to 15 years in jail for joining the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, where he trained and fought as well as attempting to incite violence by French Muslims.
After burning his French passport, Garrido urged Muslims to kill “infidels” in a seven-minute video distributed by IS' communications arm in 2014.
He was flanked in that recording by two other French jihadists using the pseudonyms Abou Ousama al Faransi and Abou Maryam al Faransi.   
Garrido's parents and two of his brothers have also received jailed sentences of 10 and 15 years. It is unclear whether his brothers, who also travelled to Syria, remain alive.