France’s Defense Minister said Wednesday the country will send an additional six fighter jets to aid the battle against extremists from the Islamic State group, Reuters news agency reported.
Jean-Yves Le Drian announced the reinforcements in comments to the French parliament.
The French Defense Ministry said there are 12 French aircraft already in the region helping carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq.
Le Drian said six Mirage jets would join the force, which on Monday carried out airstrikes against targets around Kirkuk.
Also on Wednesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that “close to 50” French citizens have been killed fighting alongside militants in Syria, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
A government source told AFP the precise number, as of Monday, was estimated at 49.
“We know the number of French nationals, more than a thousand, who are involved in this phenomenon,” Valls said after a security meeting in Beauvais, north of Paris.
“We know the number of French who have died in Syria, close to 50, so we know the dangers and, sadly, we are not surprised to learn that French citizens or residents of France are found at the heart of these cells and taking part in this barbarity,” he added.
“This strengthens our determination to fight against terrorism,” Valls said.
France is a member of the international coalition fighting the militant group, although it has restricted its operation to Iraq, one of the two countries ISIS has managed to gain a foothold in.
Source: AFP; Reuters - Photo Credit: Armée de l'air