Two days ago, we noted that both France and the US were rushing aircraft carriers toward the Syrian coast.
The French dispatched the nuclear powered, $3.5 billion Charles de Gaulle on Saturday while the US sent the CVN-75 Harry Truman last Monday. The departure of the CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt from the Persian Gulf a month ago had left the entire 5th Naval Fleet without a US carrier presence for the first time in a decade.
But not for long.
At last check, the Truman was already approaching Gibraltar.
(the Charles de Gaulle)
Meanwhile, the Charles de Gaulle has arrived and the carrier's jets have flown their first combat missions. As RT reports, "the presence of 26 military aircraft aboard the Charles de Gaulle triples French forces in the region, adding to the 12 planes already stationed in the UAE and Jordan: six Rafale and six Mirage 2000 aircraft."
"We will intensify our strikes, we will choose targets that will do the most damage possible to the terrorist army," Francois Hollande proclaimed (a note to the French President: if that's really your goal, you might want to source your "intelligence" from someone other than Washington).
Interestingly, France isn't confining its strikes to Syria. As AFP reports, French warplanes engaged targets in Ramadi and Mosul on Monday:
France launched air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq on Monday in the first sorties from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, newly deployed in the eastern Mediterranean.
"We carried out strikes in Ramadi and Mosul in support of ground forces that were pushing against troops of (the Islamic State group)," said army chief of staff General Pierre de Villiers, aboard the carrier.
He said planes from the Charles de Gaulle would launch strikes against IS targets in Syria, including command and recruitment centres as well as oil facilities, in "a matter of hours or days".
Rafale jets catapulted from the carrier's flight deck on Monday morning, an AFP reporter saw.
Meanwhile, the Russians have stepped up strikes on ISIS oil tankers as the debate heats up in the US about why the Obama administration is just now beginning to target Islamic State's main source of revenue. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Moscow's warplanes have destroyed 1,000 tankers carrying "stolen crude" to refineries in the last five days alone. The Kremlin is also targeting depots and refineries near Raqqa, and because we're talking about the Russians here, you know they took plenty of pictures.
Here's the destruction of "an object at the terrorists' oil production plant":
And here's a strike on "facilities of oil production, storage, and processing":
We wonder whether the Russians, like the Americans, dropped leaflets 45 minutes ahead of time letting ISIS know that airstrikes were imminent.
In any event, both the skies above Syria and the waters off its coast are becoming quite crowded these days, and the "parking lot" in the Mediterranean will only become more cramped once the Truman shows up. And just in case things weren't complicated enough, David Cameron is now seeking Parliamentary approval to join the air campaign and has given the French permission to use Britain’s RAF base in Cyprus to launch anti-ISIS strikes. On that note, we'll close with a rather amusingly hyperbolic quote from the British PM:
“The United Kingdom will do all in our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat this evil death cult.”