The French air force fired its first cruise missiles against the Islamic State group in Iraq Tuesday, hitting targets in the west of the country, according to a tweet by the French Ministry of Defense. The strikes come after weeks of repeated bombing raids on ISIS targets in Syria, where the terror group has its de facto capital, Raqqa.
Jets targeted ISIS infrastructure in the Al-Qaim region, a civilian neighborhood that also serves as "a training center and logistical depot," the ministry told Agence France-Presse Tuesday.
The operations come a little more than a month after the terror attacks in Paris, for which ISIS claimed responsibility and which killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. France, which has been involved in the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq since September 2014, expanded its strikes to Syria in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) December 15, 2015
In the tweet, the French Ministry of Defense said that it had hit ISIS targets with cruise missiles for the first time in Iraq, while using the hashtag associated with operation Chammal, the official name of the French mission in Syria and Iraq.
"Launched from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, the raid was made up of a dozen fighter planes equipped with cruise missiles and bombs," the ministry said in a statement.
The BBC reported last month that strikes launched from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier 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," President François Hollande said at the time.
The cruise missiles, also known as SCALP or Storm Shadow, are highly precise long-range air-to-surface weapons ideal for hitting targets in built-up civilian areas or when the target is out of range for traditional close-range strikes. The SCALP system, which is also used by NATO members the U.K., Greece and Italy, allows French aircraft to increase their strike range to up to 560 kilometers (347 miles).