France conducts new wave of air strikes on DAESH stronghold

French fighter jets launch fresh air strikes targeting DAESH terror group’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A French fighter jet taxis along the runway in an undisclosed location, in this handout picture released by the ECPAD late November 15, 2015.

Updated Nov 18, 2015

France has launched a new wave of air strikes targeting the DAESH terrorist stronghold of Raqqa in Syria on Tuesday, as a part of its escalated efforts to defeat the group following Friday’s attacks in Paris.

According to the French military spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron, the air strikes on Tuesday targeted a command post and training camp in the de facto capital of the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate.”

Ten aircraft were used in the assault, which took place at 2:30 am GMT, the French Defence Ministry announced.

France, which is in the US-led coalition against DAESH, sent its fighter jets to bomb Raqqa on Sunday after multiple terror attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead and injured over 300 on Friday evening.

Sunday’s air strikes made use of 12 Rafale and Mirage 2000 jets that took off from bases in Jordan and the Persian Gulf as a part of France’s Operation Chammal, which has been targeting DAESH in Iraq.

It was also announced following Friday’s attacks that France will send its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which is able to carry up to 20 planes, to the Middle East to help in the fight against DAESH.

Speaking to the parliament on Monday, French President Francois Hollande said France was not looking to start a clash of civilisations, but to “destroy” terrorism.

"We are not committed to a war of civilisations, because these assassins don't represent any civilisation," Hollande said.

"We are in a war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world. Terrorism will not destroy France, because France will destroy it."

Hollande also said he would seek to extend the state of emergency for three months, as well as announcing plans to hire 5,000 police and gendarmes in two years along with more judicial and customs posts to fend off the terror threat inside the country.

Currently, 4,700 French soldiers are manning the streets of Paris after security measures were increased.

After Friday’s attacks - the deadliest inflicted on France since World War II - Hollande called it "an act of war" and vowed to attack DAESH without mercy.

On Monday, French police released a photograph of Salah Abdeslam, a 26 year old French national born in Belgium, suspected to be linked to Friday night’s attacks.

He had already been identified as the renter of two cars with Belgian plates used in the attack.

Belgian police arrested seven people Sunday in Brussels, but Abdeslam wasn’t among them. He was reportedly released after being pulled over in his car on the French-Belgian border on Saturday.

French police believe Salah Abdeslam helped organise the assaults with two of his brothers. One of his brothers died in the attacks and the second one is under arrest in Belgium, a judicial source said.

Three AK47 Kalashnikov rifles were found in the back seat of a car abandoned in the eastern Parisian suburb of Montreuil, which is seen as a sign that one gunman might have escaped.

Earlier on Sunday, French police identified one of the attackers as 29-year-old French citizen Omar Ismail Mostefai, whose detached finger was found at the Bataclan concert hall, where the bloodiest of the incidents took place.

Then they identified two more men, aged 20 and 31, as the suicide bombers at the Stade de France and at a bar in the 11th district. French media named them as Bilal Hadfi and Ibrahim Abdeslam, both French nationals living in Belgium.

Four other assailants are still in the process of being identified.

TRTWorld and agencies