France Increases Anti-Terror Role

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By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer 2 hours

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - As the going gets tougher for the U.S. military in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region, one ally has stepped up despite a recent straining of ties: France.

Paris has significantly boosted its military presence in Central Asia and Afghanistan, plus in nearby seas, as both it and Washington nurture their budding rapprochement after a bitter falling out over the
Iraq war.

French fighters have been flying sorties under U.S. command in Afghanistan since Aug. 16, and France also took command this month of an international naval task force on terrorism-related patrols in the seas between the Horn of Africa and Pakistan.

France has kept about 900 troops in Afghanistan since 2003, including 200 Special Forces soldiers fighting alongside the Americans. Its air force periodically has joined the U.S.-led coalition since taking its biggest role in the war's opening weeks in 2001, when France had 5,500 troops in the region.

"It's France's wish to show that we are cooperating in the fight against terror and in support of you in Afghanistan," said French Air Force Col. Gilles Michel, who oversees his country's air force role in the theater. "We told the Americans, 'If you need some assets, we will provide them...