Paris attacks: France strikes ISIS targets in Syria, asks for EU aid
FRANCE and Russia both staged air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in northern Syria yesterday as Paris formally requested European Union (EU) assistance in its fight against the group behind Friday's bloody attacks on the French capital.
French warplanes targeted a command post and a recruitment centre for terrorists in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in the second consecutive night of strikes ordered by French President Francois Hollande, a military command spokesman told Reuters.
A French government source said Russia hit targets in the same area, a day after Mr Hollande appealed to Washington and Moscow to join in a grand coalition to fight the terrorist group that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq.
On Monday, Mr Hollande told a solemn joint session of Parliament at the Palace of Versailles that France was at war, promising to increase funds for national security and strengthen anti-terrorism laws in response to the attacks.
In Brussels, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian invoked the EU's mutual assistance clause for the first time since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty introduced the possibility, saying he expected help with French operations in Syria, Iraq and Africa.
The 28 EU member states accepted the French request but it was not immediately clear what assistance would be forthcoming.
A manhunt was continuing in France and Belgium yesterday for one of the eight attackers who killed 129 people in the Paris attacks.
French police staged 128 raids overnight in the hunt for accomplices and terrorist networks, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. Police found a third Belgian-licensed car believed to have been used by the attackers and sealed off the area around it in Paris' 18th district.
Mr Cazeneuve told France Info radio police were making rapid progress in their investigation into the attacks but declined to give details.
Mr Hollande met visiting United States Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday morning to press his call for separate US-led and Russian-led coalitions in Syria to combine forces and give priority to fighting ISIS.
Mr Kerry told reporters afterwards that ISIS was losing territory in Syria and Iraq, while the Western-backed coalition was gaining ground.