French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that the country’s Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier strike group will be deployed to the Levant between January and April 2020 in order to aid French military Operation Chammal in the Middle East. The operation was originally launched in 2014 to halt the expansion of Daesh* and to support the Iraqi military in its fight against the group.
Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Greece will also participate in the deployment, escorting the aircraft carrier to its destination.
Macron also noted that following the Middle East deployment, the carrier strike group will move on to new deployments in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.
The announcement follows a recent shift in NATO’s stance on its Middle East involvement. The alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently stated that NATO would be more involved in regional affairs following a demand for such a change from President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly urged US allies to do more in Syria and other parts of the Middle East
Trump’s demands came amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran, which nearly descended into a full-scale war between the two after American forces killed IRGC General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike as he visited Iraq on 3 January. Tehran then launched a massive missile attack against two US bases in the country in retaliation for his assassination less than a week later, but no American servicemen were injured or killed. The tensions between the two have not escalated further since then.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia