A few more details concerning the deployment of four self-propelled CAESAR howitzers in Iraq have finally emerged with the publication of the 26 July joint hearing by the French Parliament’s National Defence and Armed Forces Committee and the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee of Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Le Drian said that the four CAESARs “are currently destined for Qayyarah [south of Mossul] and there is no reason for that to change.” A statement which is thus contrary to one made yesterday by French President François Hollande, who declared at a press conference after the UN General Assembly that “the artillery battery has been set up north of Mossul.”
Iraqi government forces regained control of the Qayyarah air base, 70km from Mossul (northern Iraq), on 9 July; it has since been set up as a training centre for British and US Special Forces. The Iraqi army regained control of the town of Qayyarah itself on 25 August in order to prepare for the operation planned for early October to win back Mossul.
The four CAESAR howitzers will be used for ground support and not for the attack against Mossul itself. As requested by Baghdad, the CAESARs will be set up to support Iraqi and Kurd forces when they go on the offensive.
Since the hearing, the howitzers have been taken “from where they [were] the most available,” according to the minister who mentioned no specific squadrons. The 150 to 180 military personnel who will operate them will be autonomous in deciding on the forms of action.