Fighter jets took off Monday from France's flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean for operations over parts of Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State group, Agence France-Presse reported, citing military sources. As Rafale jets loaded with bombs took off from the flight deck, it marked the first new missions against ISIS carried out by the carrier.
The operations came just 10 days after deadly attacks in Paris, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The exact nature of the missions set to be carried out Monday were not disclosed, according to Agence France-Presse. The BBC reported the strikes launched from the Charles de Gaulle would target Islamic State sites in Iraq. "We will intensify our strikes, choosing targets that will do the most damage possible to this army of terrorists," said President François Hollande in Paris, AFP reported.
The Charles de Gaulle, the only carrier of its kind in the French fleet, carries 26 fighter jets, which more than double France's capacity in the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS. France already has six Mirage and six Rafale jets stationed in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
The Charles de Gaulle, France's largest warship, was deployed to help in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq about a week before the Nov. 13 slaughter in Paris. Hollande described the decision to deploy the carrier as "a rational choice" that would "allow us to be more efficient in coordination with our allies," the BBC reported at the time.
The warship is typically accompanied by an attack submarine, frigates, refueling ships, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft. It is an 860-foot-long, nuclear-powered carrier that has two airstrips for taking off in the front and one for landing in the back, according to Business Insider. Construction of the ship began in the 1990s but was not completed until 2001.
Since the Paris attacks, France has increased the amount of airstrikes taken against ISIS targets, flying out of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates before the carrier arrived.