France’s only aircraft carrier sets sail for Mediterranean to ‘fight ISIS’
Published time: 5 Mar, 2019 16:52. RT.COM
France’s nuclear aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, has been dispatched on a lengthy mission, following repairs. It is set to battle remnants of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and partake in several multinational drills.
The aircraft carrier departed for the eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday from the southern French port city of Toulon. The flagship is accompanied by several other surface vessels and a nuclear attack submarine.
The first deployment of the ship, after 18 months of repairs, and five of sea trials, was marked quite pompously, with French Defense Minister Florence Parly appearing on the carrier in person to say farewell to its crew.
The minister lauded the carrier as an “instrument for cooperation, which allows France to shine throughout the world” and insisted that the deployment will make a valuable contribution to the fight against IS.
“Very hard fighting is taking place in the pocket of the middle Euphrates Valley and [the aircraft carrier] will help put an end to the territorial caliphate. It is imminent. It is an important step and a great step forward,” Parly told France Bleu, admitting that the terrorist group is currently “reconfiguring and mutating.”
It was not immediately clear, however, why a whole carrier group is needed for such a task and how exactly it would contribute to the “fight against ISIS.”
The territorial control of the terrorist group, once spanning across vast areas of Iraq and Syria, has now reportedly shrunk to the village of Baghouz and its surroundings in Eastern Syria.
Apart from joining the US-led anti-IS coalition for a month, the carrier group will sail to the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal, taking part in several multinational drills alongside Indian and Egyptian militaries.