France launches strikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria

Air raids launched from freshly deployed aircraft carrier in eastern Mediterranean as President Hollande meets UK PM.

France has launched fresh air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria as President Francois Hollande said the country was stepping up its fight against the armed group at a meeting with the British prime minister in Paris.

Monday afternoon’s air raids were launched from France’s recently deployed Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which has been sent to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster the country’s attacks on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq.

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France said Monday’s raids on Iraq targeted ISIL positions in the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Mosul, while raids in Syria targeted sites in Raqqa, the armed group’s de facto capital.

Hollande to meet with US and Russia on ISIL

Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint press conference after their meeting in the French capital on Monday, as part of France’s campaign to gather international support for a military response after the Paris attacks.

“We are convinced that we must continue to strike ISIL in Syria. We will intensify our strikes. We will choose the sites that will cause the most damage to this terrorist army,” Hollande said.

Hollande and Cameron agreed to increase intelligence coordination and ensure tougher checks at entry points coming into Europe.

Hollande is set to meet US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, and he will visit Russia later in the week.

The US, France and the UK are carrying out a coordinated campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Russia has its own campaign against ISIL that has been criticised by Western officials for focusing on Syrian groups opposed to both President Bashar al-Assad and ISIL.

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Meanwhile, French police have also appealed for help in identifying one of the men involved in the Paris attacks.


In a Twitter post, the police said the man was the third participant in the attack, which occurred in the  national stadium, Stade de France, where the French football team was playing Germany and with Hollande present.

The attack was one of several carried out across Paris on November 13 by suspected ISIL members, and left 130 people dead.

At least one of those involved in the attacks, Belgian national Salah Abdesalam, is believed to be on the run and hiding near or around Belgium’s capital, Brussels.

Police in Belgium arrested 21 people in raids across the capital Brussels on Sunday and Monday as the hunt continued for key suspects in the Paris attacks.

The man in the photo is believed to have been the third attacker involved in the attack on Stade de France [AP]
The man in the photo is believed to have been the third attacker involved in the attack on Stade de France [AP]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies