- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2015

France will deploy its only aircraft carrier to support military operations to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, French President Francois Hollande said Thursday.

In a statement by the French presidency following a meeting of its defense cabinet, the government said the Charles de Gaulle warship would be sent to the eastern Mediterranean for operations against Isis in both Syria and Iraq.

The Charles de Gaulle is the largest warship in western Europe and the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier outside the U.S. fleet. It can carry up to 40 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

The carrier is usually accompanied by an attack submarine, several frigates, refueling ships, as well as fighter jets and surveillance aircraft.

“The aircraft carrier will enable us to be more efficient in coordination with our allies,” Hollande said at the inauguration of the new defense ministry headquarters in Paris, Reuters reported.

The statement from the president’s office said Paris supports efforts to reach a political transition in Syria, but added Syrian President Bashar Assad could not remain in the country.

France was the first country to join the U.S.-lead international coalition in Iraq and has recently provided limited logistical support to moderate Syrian rebels. French warplanes conducted their first airstrikes in Syria in late September.

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