French military support staff walking towards a Rafale fighter jet at the Al-Dhafra base, south of Abu Dhabi September 15, 2014. (AFP/Taieb Mahjoub)
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France carried out its first airstrike against ISIS in Iraq Friday, boosting U.S.-led efforts to unite the world against the growing threat posed by the jihadists.More than a decade after Paris famously refused to back the invasion of Iraq, France became the first nation to join the U.S. aerial campaign in the war-torn country.France, as well as Britain, had already sent aircraft into Iraq's skies for surveillance missions but Friday's strike was its first offensive operation against the jihadists.As Kurdish and federal forces, backed by expanding airstrikes, continued to make slow progress on Iraq's various frontlines, Baghdad was rocked by a series of bomb attacks.Washington estimates that ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters and there are concerns that returning jihadists could carry out attacks in Western countries.According to the latest official statistics, the largest contingent of Western jihadists comes from France.
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