Monday, November 16, 2015

France launches massive airstrikes on ISIS in Syria

France launches massive airstrikes on ISIS in Syria

France responded with fury to the terror attacks on Paris, unleashing a series of airstrikes that destroyed an ISIS command post and a training camp in Syria on Sunday, officials said.
A victim under a blanket lays dead outside the Bataclan theater in Paris on November 13.Photo: AP
The “massive” operation pounded sites in and around the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, and involved 12 aircraft — including 10 fighter jets — launched simultaneously from bases in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, a French official said.
The air fleet dropped 20 bombs in total. One target was used as a “command post, jihadist recruitment center and arms and munitions depot,” the French Defense Ministry said in a statement.
A second target “held a terrorist training camp,” it said.
ISIS insisted it suffered no casualties and said the 20 targets were “abandoned sites,”the Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, an international manhunt was under way for a suspected eighth attacker, who escaped the three hours of carnage that killed 129 people at six sites in and around Paris on Friday.

The suspect breezed past cops who stopped him near the Belgian border Saturday morning.
Salah Ab­deslamPhoto: AP
The French National Police released a photo of Salah Ab­deslam, 26, whose brother, Ibrahim, 31, blew himself up with a suicide vest at the Comptoir Voltaire cafe.
A third brother, Mohamed, was among seven suspects arrested in Brussels following the attacks.
An arrest warrant described Salah as very dangerous. Anyone spotting him was warned, “Do not intervene yourself.”
Four French officials told The Associated Press that cops questioned and released Salah hours after the attacks, when he and two other people were stopped while traveling together in a car.
The bungle came even though Salah had been identified as the person who rented a Volkswagen Polo hatchback that was used in the attacks, the AP reported.
Officials were also seeking an unidentified suspect who may have been “directly involved” in the attacks, 
In other developments:
  • President Obama huddled with Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the Group of 20 summit in Turkey. A White House official said they agreed on the need for “UN-mediated negotiations . . . as well as a cease-fire” to help end the Syrian civil war, which has let ISIS flourish.
  • The identities of another Paris attacker emerged: Bilal Hafdi, who The Washington Post said fought for ISIS in Syria. Another suicide bomber, age 20, was also identified by French authorities, but his name wasn’t released.
  • The terrorist who sneaked into Europe with desperate Syrian refugees was identified as Ahmad Almohammad, whose passport was found on the body of a bomber outside the Stade de France soccer stadium.
  • France arrested three people early Monday in a series of anti-terror raids in Toulouse, Grenoble, Calais and a suburb of Paris, according to the Daily Mail.
  • Grisly images from the Bataclan theater siege appeared on social media. Photos posted on Instagram showed dozens of bodies lying in pools of blood on the concert hall’s red-smeared concrete floor. A South African woman wrote on Facebook that she survived by playing dead for more than an hour.
  • The Post learned that screeners at JFK and Newark airports were among those who failed to detect weapons and bombs in recent tests by the Department of Homeland Security. A law-enforcement source said the revelations “should frighten everyone.”
  • British security experts told The Times of London that the attacks may have been the result of a “major failure by European intelligence services” after a man was arrested with a cache of weapons when he was stopped by Bavarian police while driving through Germany to France. It’s not clear if the man is connected to the plot, but officials wonder whether the proper security protocols followed his arrest.
  • A German newspaper discovered a series of tweets that appeared briefly before the attacks and hinted at bloodshed. “Soon in the center of Paris, God willing” user @JIHAD_FOR_IS tweeted in English just 19 hours before the attacks began, according to the Bild newspaper. The tweet was accompanied by two emojis — an explosion and a fire.
  • It was also revealed that top-level Iraqi intelligence officials warned the US-led coalition against ISIS about the looming threat of “bombings or assassinations or hostage taking” just one day before the Paris attacks.
  • A dispatch sent by Iraqi intelligence and obtained by the AP said ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had ordered an attack “in the coming days” on coalition countries fighting against the group.
  • A Paris memorial erupted in panic when crowds fled the Place de Republique, apparently over the sound of firecrackers. A CNN video showed mourners trampling a display of flowers and candles while fleeing. Britain’s Channel 4 posted video of streams of people interrupting a reporter as he conducted a live broadcast. Cops responded with guns drawn and helicopters before calm was restored.
  • Red, white and blue streaked the interior of the Cathedral of Notre Dame as André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, led a memorial Mass for the families of victims and survivors. “We pray for hope, not hate,” the cardinal said in his sermon. He said the French must meet “the violence of men” without hatred, urging mourning Parisians not to “provoke aggression” and instead remember the dead.

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