TIME France

Oil Exec Who Charmed Kings and Dictators Killed in Plane Crash

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie Dies in Plane Crash
Christophe de Margerie, chief executive officer of Total SA, reacts during a Bloomberg Television interview on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. Simon Dawson—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tributes For Total CEO Killed When His Jet Hit a Snowplow On Russian Runway

Christophe de Margerie, the CEO and chairman of the French energy giant Total who was killed in a private plane accident in Moscow on Monday night, was fond of saying that one couldn’t drill for oil in pleasant, peaceful places — a riposte to environmentalists and human-right activists who have railed against oil companies for cutting lucrative deals with repressive leaders. “I’d be more than delighted to go find energy in Club Med,” he told TIME back in December 2009, seated on a private plane during an overnight flight from Paris to the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain. “But we’ve tried, and did not find it.”

It was a characteristically blunt statement in an industry that is famous for its opaque leadership rather than plain-talking executives. Unlike his peers, De Margerie, 63, seemed unconcerned about what he said publicly. Rather, he appeared to relish his image as an outsized personality whose common touch — despite his wealthy family background — won him friends, as well as some detractors, in difficult, even hostile, places. Explaining his personality, he told TIME that his lifelong shyness (“I hate going on stage, I’m really scared,” he said) had compelled him from childhood to become a keen observer of people, and that he had learned to “listen to people, from the hotel doorman to the King of Saudi Arabia.”

Tributes flooded in on Tuesday after news broke that De Margerie had died on his way back from Moscow where he had attended a gathering of foreign investors and met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at Medvedev’s country residence near the capital. The private plane in which De Margerie was traveling collided with a snowplow at Moscow’s Vnukovo International airport shortly before midnight, killing him and three French crew members on board. Russian investigators quickly blamed the operator of the plow (who survived unscathed), saying that the man was drunk, and adding that air traffic controllers might also have made errors. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov voiced President Vladimir Putin’s condolences, saying that the Russian leader “has long known De Margerie [and] had a close working relationship with him.” In Paris, President François Hollande said De Margerie had “brilliantly defended the level of excellence and success of French technology,” and praised his “independent character” and “originality.”

Indeed, it seemed hundreds of people across the world knew De Margerie — if only as the man with the abundant gray whiskers framing his corpulent cheeks, which had earned him the nickname of “Monsieur Moustache” among his employees.

De Margerie joined the company in 1974 fresh out of university, largely, he told TIME, because it was a 10-minute walk from his family home in western Paris, and because his youthful dream of becoming a motorcycle policeman had come to naught. He rose to head its crucial exploration and production department, helping to expand hugely Total’s operations across the world. He became CEO in 2007 and chairman in 2010. During his career the company faced several serious accusations of wrongdoing. He and other Total executives faced charges in France of helping then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein skirt the U.N.’s oil-for-food sanctions during the 1990s and although they were cleared, the company paid a fine in the U.S. And after an oil tanker broke apart and sank off the Brittany coast in 1999, spewing thousands of tons of oil into the sea and killing an estimated 150,000 sea birds, a Paris court ordered Total to pay more than $250 million in damages.

Apparently unaffected by these controversies, De Margerie steadily built Total into a giant company, opening new fields across the world — including in places from which other energy companies steered clear, like Burma and Yemen. Total is now the fourth biggest Western oil company, after ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, with nearly 100,000 employees in 130 countries and revenues of nearly $240 billion last year.

But De Margerie will likely be remembered most of all for his insistence that governments should as much as possible leave it to oil companies to decide where to operate. And it is that insistence that led him most regularly into fiery debates with activists, who accused Total of cozying up to dictators in order to win concessions that were worth billions.

De Margerie, unlike other oil executives, never shied away from the argument, telling journalists that the world could face a serious oil shortage — an argument that seems less urgent these days, with declining growth in demand for oil and sinking prices on the world oil markets. “Where is electricity coming from? Flowers?” he told TIME during the flight from Paris to Bahrain in late 2009. “Maybe some day. But what’s available now is from oil and gas,” he said.

De Margerie defended his decision to extract natural gas in Burma and pipe it across the country at a time when U.S. sanctions prevented most American business links with the military government, telling an audience of Columbia University students in 2009, “Who is telling us who are the cowboys and who are the Indians? People who have never been in those countries.” As such, De Margerie nurtured relationships even under sanctions — including in Russia, where Total has a $27-billion deal to produce liquefied natural gas in Siberia.

Gregarious, with a love of fine dining — his grandfather Pierre Taittinger founded the famed Champagne house of that name — De Margerie was known to be excellent company, no matter one’s views. During the all-night flight on the rented private plane he slept little, preferring to talk for hours about everything from politics to the latest celebrity gossip, and to debate which Bordeaux wine on offer in the plane was best. Back then, Total executive Jacques de Boisseson, who heads the company’s exploration and production operations in Russia, told TIME that his boss had a knack for breaking the ice even in formal meetings with heads of state — and even after arriving late, as he frequently did. “He changes a meeting with his personal touch,” de Boisseson said. “He can get very close to very different people.”

TIME russia

Total Oil Company CEO Dies in Moscow Plane Crash

Christophe de Margerie, CEO of the French oil and gas company Total SA, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Paris
Christophe de Margerie, CEO of the French oil and gas company Total SA, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Paris on July 7, 2014 Benoit Tessier—Reuters

Christophe de Margerie was headed for France in his Dassault Falcon 50 business jet when it collided with a snow-removal machine during takeoff

(MOSCOW) — The CEO of French oil giant Total SA was killed when his corporate jet collided with a snow removal machine Monday night at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, the company said.

Total “confirms with deep regret and sadness” that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died in a private plane crash at the Moscow airport, the company said in a press release dated Tuesday and posted on its website.

Airport officials told Russia’s Tass news agency that the collision occurred at 11:57 p.m. Monday, killing de Margerie and three crew members, all of them French citizens.

“The thoughts of the management and employees of the Group go out to Christophe de Margerie’s wife, children and loved ones as well as to the families of the three other victims,” the company news release said.

A representative of the transport investigative department told Tass that the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 business jet, headed for France, collided with the snow removal machine during takeoff. Airport officials said the driver of the snow removal machine was not hurt.

Visibility at the time of the crash was 350 meters (1,150 feet), airport officials told Tass.

De Margerie, 63, known as “Mr. Moustache” for his bushy facial hair, rose through the ranks at Total to become CEO in 2007, and added the post of chairman in 2010.

De Margerie joined Total after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in 1974, according to the company’s website. He served in several positions in the Finance Department and Exploration & Production division before becoming president of Total Middle East in 1995. He became a member ofTotal’s policy-making Executive Committee in 1999.

Paris-based Total is the fifth-largest publicly-traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world, with exploration and production operations in more than 50 countries, according to a profile on thecompany’s website.

TIME Books

Why You Haven’t Heard of Patrick Modiano, Winner of the Nobel in Literature

A French novelist just won the most prestigious literary prize in the world, but many English-speaking book lovers haven't read him

Once again, the Swedish Academy has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and left many Americans scratching their heads. French novelist Patrick Modiano won this year’s prestigious award, which is not only a serious literary feat, but also a lucrative one, as it comes with a $1.1 million prize.

According to the academy’s Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, Modiano was selected “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies.” The 69-year-old writer made his debut in 1968 with the novel La Place de l’Etoile. Since then, he has gone on to write dozens of books, frequently touching on the Nazi occupation of France, and has drawn comparisons to renowned countryman Marcel Proust.

So why does it seem that so few in the English-speaking world have actually read his work? Though the Swedish Academy has always seemed to swing between wildly popular writers (William Golding, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison) and those who are more niche (Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson), this year’s choice seemed to have confused even the most well-read. Soon after Modiano’s name was announced, much of the literary world — including critics — took to social media in order to ask, essentially, “Who?”

The puzzlement could have to do with the fact that despite Modiano’s prolific output — with more than 30 books and screenplays to his name — less than a dozen of his works have been translated into English, and even several of those are now out of print. Even Englund noted that many people outside of France would likely be unfamiliar with Modiano and his work. “He is well-known in France, but not anywhere else,” he said in an interview on Thursday, before recommending that newcomers should start with the English-translated novel Missing Person.

This is not the first time that the Swedish Academy has left scores of readers in the English-speaking world puzzling over the winner or, perhaps, even privately worrying about their own literary credentials. In 2009, when the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist Herta Müller was awarded the prize, many people were unfamiliar with both her work and her name. Literary critic and Yale professor Harold Bloom told the Washington Post, “[I have] nothing to talk about because I have never heard of this writer” when he was asked to comment on Müller’s win. And, like Modiano, only a fraction of her work had been translated into English, though the New York Times also noted at the time, that “[e]ven in Germany, Ms. Müller is not well known.”

The scene was something of an echo of 2004, when Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek was named the Nobel winner in recognition for her “musical flow of voices and countervoices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power.” Yet many state-side announcements of her win made sure to note her low-profile outside the German-speaking world.

Of course, the Swedish Academy — currently made up of 16 men and women who pick the winner each year — has long been criticised of Eurocentrism in its selection. In 2009, shortly after being named Permanent Secretary, Englund admitted that there was some truth to the accusations, telling the Associated Press, “I think that is a problem. We tend to relate more easily to literature written in Europe and in the European tradition.” He did, however, go on to acknowledge that there were many writers outside of Europe who deserved the award and, since then, winners have included Peruvian-born writer Mario Vargas Llosa (2010), Chinese novelist Mo Yan (2012) and Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro (2013).

But it’s important to keep in mind that while foreign translations from most literary writers can be hard to come by, there really isn’t reason to complain about Nobel winners being inaccessible. After all, the vast majority of winners since the prize’s debut in 1901 had written in English.

What’s more, awarding the honor to little-known writers — at least, from an English-reader’s perspective — can help introduce authors to a wider audience. Shortly after Jelinek won the prize in 2004, the American distributor of her book The Piano Teacher ran out of copies because demand was so unusually high. That was famously one of the goals of the Swedish Academy’s previous Permanent Secretary, Horace Engdahl, who once responded to criticism saying, “The purpose of the prize is to make them famous, not to tap them when they are famous.”

That prospect has already excited fans of Modiano’s in France. Anne Ghisoli, the director of the Parisian bookstore Librairie Gallimard, told the Times she had long been a Modiano fan, “but this prize will help raise the global profile of one of our consummate writers.”

TIME Books

French Novelist Patrick Modiano Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

French novelist Patrick Modiano poses for a photograph. Patrick Modiano of France has won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature.
French novelist Patrick Modiano poses for a photograph. Patrick Modiano of France has won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature. AP—AP/Gallimard

Modiano is well known in his home country of France

Patrick Modiano, a French author whose work deals with memory, identity and the impact of the Nazi occupation on his home country, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

The Swedish prize worth roughly $1.1 million was awarded to Modiano “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Modiano’s father was of Italian Jewish origin, and his work often focuses on the effect of the Nazi occupation of France, according to the Associated Press. Some of his works, including “Villa Triste,” “A Trace of Malice,” and “Honeymoon” have been translated into English.

Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said that Modiano, 69, has written some 30 books, primarily novels, the Guardian reports. “Those are his important themes: memory, identity, and time,” Englund said. “He is a well known name in France but pretty well not anywhere else.”

He beat out several presumed front-runners for the prize, including Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and the Kenyan poet Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Canadian short story author Alice Munro won the prize last year.

TIME France

Carlos the Jackal Will Be Put on Trial for a 1974 Grenade Attack in Paris

FRANCE-VENEZUELA-TRIAL-CARLOS
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, right, a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal, arrives at the Criminal Court of the Palais de Justice in Paris on Dec. 9, 2013 Bertrand Guay—AFP/Getty Images

The convicted terrorist is already serving two life sentences for a series of killings in France in the 1980s

Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, nicknamed Carlos the Jackal, is to be tried for a 1974 grenade attack in Paris that killed two people and injured 34, the Guardian reports.

The notorious Marxist terrorist from Venezuela, who was convicted of a series of attacks on French civilians in the 1980s, is already serving two life sentences in a French prison for several high-profile murders. One sentence, handed down in 1997, is for the murder of a civilian and two policemen.

The other, announced in 2011, is for organizing a series of attacks in the 1980s on two French passenger trains, a train station in Marseille, and a Libyan magazine office in Paris. The attacks killed 11 people in total and injured about 150.

Ramírez has denied involvement in the attacks.

On Friday, a source told the Guardian that a French judge was planning to send Ramírez, 64, to a special court in the French capital, where he will get a third trial, this time on charges related to a 1974 grenade attack at a Parisian drugstore.

[Guardian]

TIME Syria

Watch What Life Is Like for Ordinary People in an ISIS-Controlled Town

The student hid a camera under her niqab to film what life is like under militant extremism

A Syrian woman has secretly filmed what life is like in the town of Raqqa, in northern Syria, which is under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The woman, a student, walks through the streets recording the daily life of local residents and ISIS militants with a hidden camera under her niqab, reports France 24.

Filmed between February and April this year, the footage was first broadcast on France 2 and translated into English by France 24.

The filmmaker, whose identity has not been revealed, walks past many men with guns but not all are ISIS militants. One woman dressed head to foot in a black niqab can be seen taking her son to a playground, an AK-47 slung over her shoulder.

At one point the filmmaker is stopped by a man in a car and told to cover her face properly. “You have to behave better when you are in public,” he says. “You have to pay attention by covering up. God loves women who are covered.”

Later she walks into an Internet café and overhears a French woman speaking to her relatives back home, reports France 24.

“I don’t want to come back because I feel good here,” says the woman, “I didn’t take the risk of coming here just so I could come back to France.”

She then tells her mother to stop crying and claims that life is not what is portrayed on TV. “There’s no point to you crying or being scared. What you see on TV is wrong, do you understand? They exaggerate everything on TV.”

An estimated 150 French women have left France and are living in Syria; many left to get married or join their militant husbands fighting in the country, reports France 24.

[France 24]

TIME France

Frenchman’s Beheading Raises Fears of Wider Fight Against ISIS

A portrait of mountain guide Frenchman Herve Gourdel hangs near a French flag outside the town hall in Saint-Martin-Vesubie, Sept. 25, 2014.
A portrait of Herve Gourdel hangs outside the town hall in Saint-Martin-Vesubie, France, Sept. 25, 2014. Patrice Masante—Reuters

French and other officials are wondering how widely they will need to fight in order to crush ISIS's growing influence

The videotaped killing of French tourist Hervé Gourdel in Algeria on Wednesday seemed at first yet another in a string of horrific beheadings of Westerners—the fourth since the chilling death last month of American journalist James Foley. Yet to Western officials, the killing bore another ominous signal too: That the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS, could become far more complicated as the terror group’s clout expands across a region already awash in weaponry and riven by violent upheaval.

Far different from the three Westerners ISIS has beheaded in Syria – Foley, American journalist Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines–Gourdel, 55, was hundreds of miles from any lethal battlefront and seemed to have no expectation that he was headed into potential danger. A mountain guide from a small village near Nice, he arrived in Algeria last Saturday to hike in the rugged area of the country’s northeast Tizi Ouzu region. He was kidnapped one day later by a new group calling itself Jund al-Khalifa. The organization had broken away from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) just earlier this month and sworn allegiance to ISIS. It threatened to kill Gourdel unless France stopped its airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq, which began on September 19. A second, grisly video appeared on the Internet Wednesday, showing men with their faces concealed standing over Gourdel, one announcing they were executing him as a “message of blood for the French government.” The final shot shows one of the men apparently holding Gourdel’s severed head.

In the shocked aftermath, French and other officials were left wondering how widely they will need to fight in order to crush ISIS’s growing influence—and whether they might be drawn into another war less than two years after France fought a major air and ground assault against al-Qaeda to force them out of northern Mali. In an impassioned speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday just hours after Gourdel’s murder, a somber French President François Hollande made it clear that he would not call off France’s bombing raids on ISIS, saying, “It is not weakness that should be the response to terrorism but force.”

What kind of force might succeed is unclear, however. Just 16 months ago, Hollande declared France’s Mali war a success, saying his forces had effectively crushed AQIM and its allies. But in recent weeks, North African officials and journalists have said that ISIS’ rise in Syria, and its sweep across Iraq, could reenergize remnant fighters from France’s fight, many of whom slipped across Mali’s remote desert border with Algeria as French troops closed in. They said lethal battles might begin as different jihadist organizations vy for primacy in the region—perhaps by proving their lethality against Westerners.

“We will witness an internal war within the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” the Algerian newspaper L’Expression wrote earlier this month, citing “very well-informed sources,” and said that as groups compete to become the main jihadist organization in the region, ISIS-aligned organizations could begin assassinating those still affiliated to al-Qaeda who “could hamper the emergence of ISIS in North Africa.”

As it was, the first public assassination was Gourdel, a totally innocent Frenchmen—signaling that Westerners, even far from Syria, are now potential targets. On Wednesday, the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. terrorism monitoring organization, warned that Gourdel’s murder could be the start of a new pattern. “As the Islamic State has instructed its supporters all over the world to execute attacks, the beheading of this French hostage may not be the last demonstration of this nature,” SITE director Rita Katz said in an online commentary after Gourdel’s killing.

For France, there are compelling reasons to fight ISIS’ rise in North Africa. Millions of North Africans live in France, which has Europe’s biggest Muslim population, and Algeria, for example, is a cheap two-hour flight from Paris. French officials estimate that more than 900 French citizens have joined ISIS’ ranks in Syria and Iraq, many just this year, and are increasingly worried that some might return to mount attacks at home. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday to stop foreign fighters from traveling to join ISIS, and from blocking them from returning back home.

But while Hollande strongly supported that resolution, French officials have shown how difficult it could be to enforce those measures.

On Tuesday—as Gourdel’s life hung in the balance—three French citizens known to have traveled to Syria boarded a flight from Turkey to Marseille without French officials’ knowledge, even though all three were well-known Islamic militants. One pilot in Turkey blocked the group from boarding his plane, fearing they were a potential threat to the flight. Turkish officials then put the three on a plane to Marseille. French officials, who had dispatched police to Paris’ Orly Airport to arrest the three, claim Turkey did not inform them of the change of destination until the group had disembarked in the southern French city and walked through passport control without notice. On Wednesday French Defense Minister Yves le Drian admitted in a radio interview that this week’s incident was “a huge foul-up” caused by muddled communications between Turkey and France.

TIME France

Sarkozy Eyes Return to Frontline French Politics as Hollande Stumbles

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy attends the inauguration of the Institut Claude Pompidou in Nice in March 2014.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy attends the inauguration of the Institut Claude Pompidou in Nice in March 2014. Eric Gaillard—Reuters

With the Socialist incumbent's popularity ratings plummeting, the former President says he is “too passionate about public debate and the future of my countrymen” to remain on the sidelines

In May, 2012, when an ashen-faced Nicolas Sarkozy appeared before a roomful of crushed supporters to concede defeat to his Socialist rival François Hollande in the French presidential elections, he said: “My involvement in the life of my country will be different from now on.”

Now, it looks it might not be so different after all.

On Friday, Sarkozy finally made public what most French have assumed for months—that he would attempt to unseat the first Socialist leader France has had in 22 years by challenging the deeply unpopular Hollande in 2017. In a letter addressed to “mes chers amis” and posted on his Facebook page, he said he is “too passionate about public debate and the future of my countrymen to see them condemned to choose between today’s desperate spectacle and the prospect of hopeless isolation,” a reference to rocketing support for France’s far-right National Front. Sarkozy said the French should decide for themselves “about the strength and sincerity of my commitment to the service of France,” and characterized himself as a patriot pulled back into the fray, almost out of necessity, to rescue his nation from disaster.

Indeed, few French doubt that their country is in dire need of change. After two and half years in office, Hollande has failed to revive a severely troubled economy, whose unemployment rate, near 11%, is the highest in at least 15 years, and whose 4.3% public deficit is way above the European Union’s 3% target. Poll after poll shows Hollande’s support draining away, and one survey earlier this month put his popularity rating at 13%, the lowest of any French leader since World War II. In his twice-yearly press conference on Thursday, a chastened Hollande (whose bruises this month have included a vicious tell-all book by his former partner, Valérie Trierweiler) admitted to journalists he was struggling in office, saying, “It is not easy.” Yet he insisted he would remain in the Elysée Palace until the end of his term, rejecting a call by about 65% of voters in one recent poll that he resign the presidency.

Still, as miserable as the French are under Hollande, it is unclear that they would embrace Sarko, as the former President is known. In Friday’s letter Sarkozy said he would run for leadership of his Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party—a necessary prelude to a formal presidential campaign. But he could face a tough task convincing the UMP that France needs him back in power. In fact, it is possible that his return could staunch the erosion in Hollande’s base, by reminding some voters that the current President might not be so bad after all.

Sarkozy was increasingly disliked—even hated—during his five-year term in office. As news filtered out this past week that he would run again, memories of that unpopularity resurfaced. The cover of one news magazine this week depicts Sarkozy as the Freddy character in the Friday the 13th horror movies, which are about a boy who is dead but keeps coming back. Sarkozy is shown in Freddy’s metal talons and black hat with the sinister headline: “SARKO 2: The Return.”

But that’s assuming he manages to mount a return. Sarkozy faces stiff competition for his own party’s nomination, including from former Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who has recently won attention for injecting dynamism into the southwestern city of Bordeaux, where he is Mayor.

In fact, for Sarkozy, the primary race for his party’s nomination could be even tougher than his 2007 presidential campaign, which he fought against a tepid Socialist contender, Hollande’s pre-Trierweiler partner Ségolène Royal. Sarkozy won by promising dramatic economic and social changes, including cutting France’s oversized bureaucracy and scrapping laws that have stifled private-sector investment for years. In office, those plans hit a wall of resistance from lobby groups and trade unions, and many French blamed Sarkozy’s irascible style for aggravating the conflict. Voters ultimately judged him to be volatile and a bully, with a jarring fondness for expensive living. He married the wealthy singer-model Carla Bruni while in office, and a video camera once caught him on a rope line muttering under his breath to a modest-looking man in the crowd, “Piss off, poor asshole.” Overcoming this history will not be easy, and that’s before he confronts the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whom polls currently place as the most likely winner in the 2017 presidential race.

For now, Sarkozy is trying to portray himself as a new man, someone who has polished off the rough edges and mellowed through his years in political exile. In recent photographs, he is tanned and relaxed from a summer vacation in Bali, wearing an open-neck shirt and sporting a common-man’s stubble on his chin. In his Facebook letter on Friday, he said he is not the same person he was as president, writing: “I’ve been able to step back and analyze my term in office, to draw lessons, go back to our common history, measure the vanity of certain feelings, avoiding revenge or confrontation.” The combat, however, has only just begun.

TIME Iraq

France Becomes First Ally to Join U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq

FRANCE-DIPLOMACY-HOLLANDE
French President Francois Hollande holds a press conference with Madagascar president (unseen) at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on September 19, 2014. Fred Dufour—AFP/Getty Images

France became the first foreign country to publicly join United States airstrikes in Iraq on Friday, bombing a logistics depot controlled by Islamist militants, Iraqi and French officials said. Rafale fighter jets accompanied by support planes “entirely destroyed” the depot controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the north of the country, President Francois Hollande said. Iraq’s military spokesman said four morning airstrikes killed dozens of fighters…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

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