France Deploys Artillery Ahead of Iraqi Army's Mosul Offensive

While the Iraqi army takes up positions around the city, international coalition forces are keen to capitalize on ISIS' loss of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

A tank of the Iraqi army is seen in the town of Qayyara, Iraq, August 24, 2016.
Stringer via Reuters

REUTERS – France said on Tuesday it was deploying artillery to Iraq and readying its aircraft carrier for deployment to reinforce foreign military support for the Iraqi army's expected push to recapture Mosul, the de facto capital of ISIS in Iraq.

The Iraqi army and its elite units have gradually taken up positions around the city 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Baghdad, with international coalition forces keen to capitalize on ISIS' loss of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

"We decided to bolster our support of the Iraqi forces this Autumn with the aim of recapturing Mosul," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a gathering of defense and military officials in Paris.

"At this very moment, artillery is arriving close to the front line," Le Drian said, adding that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier would soon leave for the Middle East.

French defense officials declined to give details on the nature of the artillery.

It was from Mosul's Grand Mosque in 2014 that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad declared a caliphate spanning regions of Iraq and Syria.

France, the first country to join U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq, has stepped up aerial operations against ISIS, including in Syria, after several attacks by the group in France. Paris also has special forces operating in both countries and has provided weapons to Syrian rebel groups.