France says west plans strike on Islamic State in Iraq, confirms Libya presence

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault attend the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - France and the United States are preparing a coordinated strike against Islamic State on the militant group’s stronghold in Mosul, Iraq, French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said.

“(French Defence Minister) Jean Yves Le Drian is in Washington. He is preparing with the Americans a coordinated attack on Mosul,” le Foll said on France Info radio.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault spoke about a Washington meeting of the anti-Islamic State coalition in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

Le Foll said he could not confirm a report in Le Parisien newspaper, citing an Associated Press report, which said two French special forces soldiers had been killed in Libya on Sunday.

However, he confirmed that French special forces were present in the country.

“Special forces are there, of course, to help and to make sure France is present everywhere in the struggle against terrorists,” he said.

Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Matthias Blamont