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France is involved in the non-international armed conflicts against the Islamic State group by undertaking airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as part of the international coalition led by the United States. It is also involved in the international armed conflict in Syria. Furthermore, France has been active in the Sahel region to provide support in the fight against jihadist groups.

France is currently a party to a series of armed conflicts. For further information on who is considered a party to an armed conflict, see ‘contemporary challenges – multinational forces: who is a party to the conflict?’ in our classification section.

  •  France is party to the non-international armed conflict in Iraq against the Islamic State group. On 19 September 2014, France was the first country to join the United States in airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq. France is also undertaking surveillance missions. 'France Launches First Airstrike on IS in Iraq', BBC, 19 September 2014; see also the information provided for by the French government on Operation Chammal.
  • France became a party to the non-international armed conflict in Syria against the Islamic State group after extending its airstrikes against Islamic State groups targets into Syria in September 2015. A. Chrisafis, 'France Launches First Airstrikes Against Isis in Syria', The Guardian, 27 September 2015. Initially, France argued that the intervention was based on collective self-defence in support of Iraq because the Islamic State group was operating from safe havens in Syria, see  Identical Letters Dated 8 Spetember 2015 from the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, UN doc S/2015/745, 9 September 2015. After the attacks in Paris in November 2015, France claimed that its actions were also based on the right to individual self-defence because the attacks amounted to an armed attack in the sense of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, see 7655th Meeting o the Security Council, UN doc S/PV.7565, 20 November 2015. For further information on the framework governing the use of force under international law, see the Use of Force section.
  • Due to its airstrikes in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government, France is also a party to the international armed conflict in Syria. On the relevance of consent for conflict classification, see 'contemporary challenges - relevance of consent'  in our classification section.'
  • In 2013, France deployed troops in order to assist and strengthen the African Union mission (MISCA) in Central African Republic. Operation Sangaris commenced following the Security Council authorization under Resolution 2127. See Security Council Resolution 2127, S/RES/2127 (2013), 5 December 2013. French forces engaged at the front line during the height of the conflict between ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka armed groups. Their intervention proved crucially helpful in regaining control of the capital, Bangui, and in securing the route from Bangui to Cameroon. In October 2016, France decided to close down its operation in Central African Republic and withdraw its troops. 
  • Between 2013 and 2022, France provided military support to the Government of Mali in its fight against rebel groups
  • French forces have been present in Niger since July 2022, in support of the government.
Last updated: Wednesday 8th February 2023