return on five years of France's engagement in Iraq and Syria

While Paris believes it has consolidated its relationship with its American ally, the French army is still facing the resistance of the jihadist enemy.

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A Rafale on the Prince-Hassan base in Jordan on December 31, 2018.
A Rafale on the Prince-Hassan base in Jordan, December 31, 2018. DAPHNE BENOIT / AFP

When we talk about the five years of the French operation "Chammal" launched on September 19, 2014 in Iraq, then in Syria twelve months later, a comment comes back in the mouths of French soldiers: "We managed to work very well with the Americans. " As part of Washington's international coalition against ISIS, France believes its modest turnout – currently 1,000 – is being paid back. Despite the strategic mistakes of the Trump presidency and the resistance of the jihadist enemy, the military relationship with the great ally was consolidated, it is estimated in Paris.

"The characteristic of this operation is that we have aligned ourselves with the American modes of operation, with a model combining air strikes and special forces, by favoring indirect support to local forces for a light footprint on the ground", sums up the military historian Michel Goya. This former colonel notes that, "Five years, it's starting to be one of the longest wars France has ever waged. If we wanted a good cost / efficiency ratio, it was successful. But the goal of defeating Daesh is not achieved ".

According to the elements collected by The world, the French army, which participated in some 2,500 aerial bombardments, fired 100 Scalp cruise missiles and 3,000 bombs. On the ground, Caesar cannon fired 18,000 155-mm artillery shells. A record at the same time weak – 5% of the strikes of the coalition – and significant – only France and the United Kingdom participated durably in the air campaign of the operation "Inherent Resolve" (OIR).

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Turning in 2016

France began operations on the Iraqi-Syrian theater in 2014. It installs its Transall Gabriel packed with sensors on the Prince-Hassan base in Jordan, as well as operators in Baghdad and special forces in Erbil. It deploys its own means of intelligence, including light aircraft surveillance. But she occupies, with her officers in the staffs of OIR in Qatar, Kuwait and Baghdad, a single place running in the coalition, a "Teammate" according to the official language.

The Mirage 2000 based in Jordan first fly out of combat zones. After the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, President François Hollande promises that he will put " all means " to destroy the IS, who organized the carnage since Rakka. And, on November 15, 2015, Paris launches a raid on the Syrian city with ten planes. But the "Massive raids against IS" promised to the public did not repeat themselves. The French General Staff wanted to preserve the means of its major operation, "Barkhane", in the Sahel. And the aircraft carrier, sent on zone from the end of 2015, which allows to "Treble" the French workforce engaged, depends on the American supply. According to information from World, in autumn 2016, the staff of OIR completely refuses the essential tankers to implement its 24 Rafale ships from Toulon. The case is settled after discussion.


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