French planes on Gulf-based carrier make first strikes
DUBAI - French Rafale warplanes from the carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Gulf on Wednesday carried out their first bombing sortie since joining the fight against jihadists in Iraq this week.
Two of four Rafale fighters returned to the aircraft carrier with half of their weaponry or no missiles at all, hours after having taken off with four guided missiles each, an AFP photographer said.
The two pilots shook hands after stepping down from their planes, but no details were revealed about the targets of the bombing.
French warplanes have formed part of the US-led coalition carrying out raids against IS jihadists in Iraq for several months.
But the Charles de Gaulle only began operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq on Monday, stepping up France's campaign seven weeks after deadly jihadist attacks in Paris.
The carrier's 12 Rafale jets and nine Super Etendard add to the campaign's nine Rafales based in the United Arab Emirates and six Mirage 2000Ds flying out of Jordan.
The carrier will be operational in the Gulf for eight weeks.