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The French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle transits the Suez Canal as it enters the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations on Dec. 7, 2015.

The French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle transits the Suez Canal as it enters the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations on Dec. 7, 2015. (French navy)

MANAMA, Bahrain — France has taken a key leadership role overseeing a task force responsible for planning and conducting strike operations against the Islamic State, the Navy said Monday.

Rear Adm. Rene-Jean Crignola, on board his flagship, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, has assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s Task Force 50, which is conducting coalition naval strike operations against the jihadist group.

The plan for the French to take control of the task force has been in place for several months and is not in response of the Paris attacks, a Navy spokesman said.

The Charles de Gaulle and its battle group left their home port of Toulon, France, on Nov. 18 to support strike operations over Iraq and Syria. It is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations.

U.S. 5th Fleet is responsible for some 2.5 million square miles of area, including the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

church.chris@stripes.com

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