French Fighters Target Islamic State Revenue

FMoD (2011) Mirage 2000 Libya

French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 loaded with GBU-12 Paveway II during March 2011 air strikes in Libya (Credit : French MoD)

“We intervened in Syria… yesterday evening with a strike on an oil supply center near Deir Ezzor on the border between Iraq and Syria,” Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced today.

Given the location of the strikes, it’s likely the fighters were launched from their forward location in the Kingdom of Jordan. Satellite imagery has confirmed that the French Air Force deployed its six Mirage 2000 fighters to Prince Hassan AB, Mafraq Governorate.

They’ve been deployed at the airbase, which is located less than 20 miles south of the Syrian border and a little over 100 miles from Iraq, since early 2015. In September, the French air arm initiated its first missions in Syria after launching strikes in Iraq earlier this year.

In January, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the murder of four people in a kosher grocery store in Paris. The French Parliament overwhelmingly approved strikes a week later.

The French Air Force currently has 12 combat aircraft supporting Operation Chammal including the six Rafales at Al Dhafra, UAE and six Mirage 2000s at Prince Hassan. The French Navy also maintains the long range Atlantique 2 in the UAE for reconnaissance and battlefield prep.

They will soon be joined by the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle which will launch additional fighters in support of operations. Previously, the carrier deployed for a two month stint in February providing up to 20 additional aircraft to conduct between 10-15 sorties a day.

It’s likely further fighters will continue to target Islamic State’s oil income as it’s a crucial revenue stream helping fuel the terrorist group’s operations. However, given how diversified the quasi-corporate state remains, strikes alone will unlikely be enough.