France is using the al-Dhafra Base, south of the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, to launch reconnaissance flights over Iraq in support of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as other forces are expected to gather in the Gulf as part of the push against the militant group.
Agence France Presse said one of its correspondents saw two French Rafale fighter jets equipped with high-precision cameras take off on Monday from the al-Dhafra Base during a visit by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Le Drian had earlier announced the “first reconnaissance flights” would take off from the base “in agreement with the Iraqi and Emirati authorities.”
Le Drian said his trip to the base "comes at a time of extreme seriousness" over the threat posed by ISIS.
"We must be ready to intervene," he told the French troops at the base, located about 30 kilometers southwest of UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
The French aircraft were launched as part of France’s commitment to start providing aerial support to the Iraqi government as it seeks to eliminate the militant group, the Associated Press reported.
Australia has also announced its decision to send troops to the UAE as part of the campaign, it’s prime minister said Sunday.
Tony Abbott said that in response to a formal U.S. request for specific Australian Defense Force (ADF) capabilities, Australia would supply 600 personnel along with equipment to the coalition force against ISIS.
The Australian personnel are made up of 400 from the air force and 200 from the military, including Special Forces.
The Australian deployment to the UAE – a staging post for the country's military operations into the region –- will include eight RAAF F/A18 combat aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker and Transport aircraft, the Associated Press reported.
The Australian leader said he was "not deploying combat troops but contributing to international efforts to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening.”
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry won the backing for a "coordinated military campaign" from 10 Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
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