President Francois Hollande says France will send heavy weapons to Iraq in support of the coalition fighting Islamic State
French President Francois Hollande said on Friday France would supply heavy weapons to Iraqi forces as soon as next month and that there were no plans to deploy troops on the ground there and in Syria, after a fourth security council meeting since the attacks in Nice on Bastille Day.
France has said it would ramp up efforts to fight Islamic State after an attack in the Riviera city of Nice that killed 84 people last week but would not deploy troops on the ground.
"This morning at the defence council, I took the decision as part of the anti-Daesh coalition to make weapons available to Iraqi forces," Hollande said, using another name for IS.
"They will be there next month," he said following the meeting with a handful of ministers and the heads of the security forces.
An aide to the president said the weaponry would include artillery batteries and that France would also send military advisors to train Iraqi forces in using them.
Hollande said he would also be sending the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the region "at the end of September".
The carrier "will allow us to intensify strikes against terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq using our Rafale jets," he said.
Hollande insisted that the move did not change the nature of France's military involvement in the region.
"We support our allies in Iraq and Syria but we are not deploying ground troops," he stressed.
"We have advice to give and training to carry out, but it is not our soldiers fighting on the ground in Syria and Iraq."
French and American air forces have been conducting strikes on Islamic State strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
Earlier this year, French military advisers and special forces also began operating on the ground in Libya against Islamic State militants in conjunction with Britain and the United States.