Updated 10:22 p.m. Moscow Time
PARIS, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - France will not send ground troops to fight Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, but is ready to carry out air strikes against the group's positions there, President Francois Hollande said Thursday.
"I have decided to respond positively to the Iraqi authorities to provide air support," Hollande said at a news conference at the Elysee Palace.
"We will not go beyond that. There will be no ground troops and we will only intervene in Iraq," Hollande said.
France has already sent weaponry and military instructors to help Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq stave off advances by Islamic State militants.
French aircraft started patrol flights in Iraqi airspace on Monday following Hollande's visit to Baghdad last week.
On September 15, Paris hosted an international conference, urgently initiated by French President Francois Hollande in connection with a dangerous intensification of the extremist group. Foreign ministers of more than 20 countries discussed common steps to combat the Islamic State and terrorism in general.
The IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched an offensive in Iraq and seized vast areas in both countries, proclaiming an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control.
Last week, US President Barack Obama announced his strategy for defeating the extremists, which included the creation of a broad international anti-IS coalition. Obama, like his French counterpart, ruled out sending ground troops to the area.
The international alliance to combat the militant group is still being formed, with over 40 states having endorsed the campaign so far. A number of countries are already providing Iraq with military and humanitarian aid.