A photo provided by the French Army on September 19, 2014, shows a pilot navigating his Rafale fighter jet for a mid-air refuelling en route to Iraq. EPA
A photo provided by the French Army on September 19, 2014, shows a pilot navigating his Rafale fighter jet for a mid-air refuelling en route to Iraq. EPA

France promises more attacks after first Iraq airstrikes



PARIS // French fighter jets struck against ISIL in Iraq on Friday, destroying a logistics depot and killing dozens of militants, Iraqi and French officials said.

The attack made France the first foreign country to publicly add military muscle to United States airstrikes against the extremist group. Two Rafale fighter jets accompanied by support planes struck in northern Iraq on Friday morning, and the target was “entirely destroyed”, the French president Francois Hollande said.

A French military official said four laser-guided bombs struck a Iraqi military installation that had been overrun by the militants, and hit a munitions and fuel depot.

The Iraqi military said dozens of extremist fighters were killed in four strikes, though the French official said the damage assessment had not been completed.

“Other operations will follow in the coming days with the same goal – to weaken this terrorist organization and come to the aid of the Iraqi authorities,” Mr Hollande said.

Qassim Al Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman, said the French planes hit near the town of Zumar, in an area that remains heavily contested by ISIL fighters, even though Iraqi and Kurdish security forces have managed to make headway nearby with the support of US airstrikes.

Mr Hollande, who said the airstrikes were requested by Iraq’s government, ruled out French troops on the ground.

The first French airstrikes in Iraq have added significance: France, one of America’s oldest allies, was among the most vocal critics of the decision of the then US president George W Bush to conduct military action in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The US president Barack Obama has called for a global coalition to defeat ISIL, which has drawn criticism around the world and in a unanimous UN Security Council resolution for its barbarity.

Along with reports of mass executions of rival fighters and civilians, footage of the beheading of two US journalists and a British aid worker in Syria sparked international outrage and spurred calls for tougher action against the group.

Mr Obama has pledged to support Kurdish and Iraqi federal forces by offering air support and arms, as well as targeting intelligence and training.

On Thursday, Congress backed his plan to arm Syrian rebels to take on ISIL in conjunction with airstrikes inside Syria, where it controls large areas.

“These terrorists thought they could frighten us, or intimidate us, or cause us to shrink from the world,” Mr Obama said, after a rare moment of bipartisanship in the House.

“But today they’re learning the same hard lesson of petty tyrants and terrorists who have gone before.”

France’s military action appeared to win qualified endorsement from Iraq’s top Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani.

In a Friday sermon, delivered by one of his aides, the elderly cleric acknowledged Iraq needed foreign help but said the country must not become subservient to outside powers.

“Even if Iraq is in need of help from its brothers and friends in fighting black terrorism, maintaining the sovereignty and independence of its decisions is of the highest importance,” the ayatollah’s spokesman said.

ISIL fighters, who have controlled much of Syria’s eastern oil and agricultural provinces for more than a year, swept through mainly Sunni Muslim regions of north Iraq in mid-June, seizing cities including Mosul and Tikrit and halting only a few dozen kilometres north of the capital Baghdad.

The US launched airstrikes against the group on April 8 to prevent “genocide” of minority communities in northern Iraq and protect its interests in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region.

Since then, the US has conducted 176 airstrikes in Iraq, its military central command said on Thursday. On Wednesday, it hit a militant training camp south-east of Mosul and an ammunition stockpile south-east of Baghdad. It has also conducted a number of strikes this week in Iraq’s Anbar province, near the strategic Haditha Dam.

Mr Hollande has tressed that France will not go beyond airstrikes in support of the Iraqi military or Kurdish peshmerga forces, and will not attack targets in Syria.

France is conducting operations in Iraq from French Air Base 104 inside the vast Al Dhafra base near Abu Dhabi. French jets began flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq on Monday.

The base, home to about 700 French service personnel and six Rafales, is 1,700km from Mosul, meaning that the planes need midair refuelling to strike in Iraq.

France could also mobilise its only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, which is now docked in southeastern France and would need at least five days to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The ship can carry about 30 planes including Rafales, Super-Etendards and U.S-built E-2C Hawkeye surveillance aircraft.

* Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters

Company profile

Date started: January, 2014

Founders: Mike Dawson, Varuna Singh, and Benita Rowe

Based: Dubai

Sector: Education technology

Size: Five employees

Investment: $100,000 from the ExpoLive Innovation Grant programme in 2018 and an initial $30,000 pre-seed investment from the Turn8 Accelerator in 2014. Most of the projects are government funded.

Partners/incubators: Turn8 Accelerator; In5 Innovation Centre; Expo Live Innovation Impact Grant Programme; Dubai Future Accelerators; FHI 360; VSO and Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3)

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Sideup
Started: 2019
Founder: Waleed Rashed
Based: Cairo, Egypt
Industry: technology, e-commerce
Funds raised so far: $1.2 million
Investors: Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and Saudi angel investor Faisal Al Abdulsalam

ARGENTINA SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani, Agustin Marchesin, Esteban Andrada
Defenders: Juan Foyth, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ramiro Funes Mori, Renzo Saravia, Marcos Acuna, Milton Casco
Midfielders: Leandro Paredes, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Exequiel Palacios, Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo De Paul, Angel Di Maria
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Matias Suarez

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

How to watch Ireland v Pakistan in UAE

When: The one-off Test starts on Friday, May 11
What time: Each day’s play is scheduled to start at 2pm UAE time.
TV: The match will be broadcast on OSN Sports Cricket HD. Subscribers to the channel can also stream the action live on OSN Play.

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)