French jets struck a suspected Islamic State target in Iraq for the first time on Friday, expanding a U.S.-led military campaign against militants who have seized a third of the country and also control large parts of neighboring Syria.
President Francois Hollande said Rafale jets hit "a logistics depot of the terrorists" near the city of Mosul, which has been held by Islamic State for more than three months. It promised more operations in coming days.
The French military action, which follows U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq and near the capital Baghdad, appeared to win qualified endorsement from Iraq's top Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
In a Friday sermon, delivered by one of his aides, the elderly cleric acknowledged Iraq needed foreign help but said Iraq must not become subservient to outside powers.
"Even if Iraq is in need of help from its brothers and friends in fighting black terrorism, maintaining the sovereignty and independence of its decisions is of the highest importance," Sistani's spokesman Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Karbala'i said.
Sistani speaks for millions of Iraq's majority Shi'ites and has a worldwide following.
Islamic State fighters, who have controlled much of Syria's eastern oil and agricultural provinces for more than a year, swept through mainly Sunni Muslim regions of north Iraq in mid-June, seizing cities including Mosul and Tikrit and halting only a few dozen miles (km) north of the capital Baghdad.
Iraq's army and Shi'ite militia forces have battled the Islamic State and other Sunni militants, but failed to make significant territorial gains.
Car bombs, some of them claimed by Islamic State, have been a near daily occurrence in the capital. On Friday, two car bombs killed nine people in Baghdad and a bomb in the majority Kurdish city of Kirkuk in the north killed eight people, security sources said.
Washington launched air strikes for the first time in August to halt an IS advance on the Kurdish autonomous capital Arbil. Since then it has tried to build an international coalition to destroy the radical Sunni Muslim group, saying more than 40 countries, including Arab nations, have offered assistance.