National Security

Earnest: France Couldn’t Strike Islamic State Without U.S. Support

White House spokesman John Earnest said Wednesday that the French are only able to carry out air strikes in Syria because of America's "early investment" in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group.

"It is because of [U.S.-French] cooperation and because of the kind of logistical support that only the United States can provide that France is actually even in a position to ramp up the flights that they took in Raqqah overnight," Earnest said on MSNBC, referring to the French air strikes in Syria.

According to Earnest, U.S. intelligence and military strikes have allowed France to escalate their fight against IS.

He confirmed that the United States is providing targeting information to the French and said that the U.S. is "in the position to do that" because "more than a year ago, the president ordered significant military operations inside of Syria" to be carried out by the U.S. and the anti-IS coalition.

"The intelligence that we've gleaned over the last year, the military strikes that the United States and our coalition partners have already taken over the last year, have laid the ground work and created an opportunity for France to step up and make their own contribution," he said.

He welcomed France's "ramped-up" military activity, but again said that it was only possible because of America's "early investment" in the fight.

"We welcome their ramped-up contribution," he said. "But there should be no denying the fact that the only reason that the French are in the position to carry out this kind of response is because of the early investment in our military and in our intelligence that the president ordered more than a year ago."

While taking credit for France’s heightened military activity in Syria, the Obama administration has come under criticism for not strengthening its IS strategy in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Obama’s "degrade-and-defeat" strategy has also been condemned for not being effective in the first place, as it has shifted from degrading and defeating IS to "containing it."