French fighter jets launched their biggest raids in Syria to date targeting the Islamic State’s stronghold in Raqqa just two days after the group claimed coordinated attacks in Paris that killed more than 129 people.
According to France 24 the targets included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group, said Mickael Soria, press adviser for France’s defense minister.
ISIS claims Raqqa as the capital of its so-called caliphate. The airstrikes come two days after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which France’s President described as “an act of war.”
Twelve aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, were involved in Sunday’s airstrikes, Soria said. He also added that over twenty bombs were dropped and all of the targets were destroyed.
France 24 also reported that the operation, carried out in coordination with US forces, struck a command centre, recruitment centre for jihadists, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters,
The air strikes were launched on the opening day of the G20 summit in Turkey where world leaders in a draft statement raised the alarm over an escalating international movement of “foreign terrorist fighters”.
Heads of the Group of 20 top world economies said they would share intelligence, track border crossings and boost aviation security to prevent international travel by “terrorists”, without identifying the Islamic State group or any other specific threat.
“We are concerned over the acute and growing flow of foreign terrorist fighters and the threat it poses for all states,” the G20 chiefs said in a draft statement obtained by AFP a day ahead of its formal adoption at their meeting in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya.
President Obama joined other world leaders for a summit at this Mediterranean resort Sunday, vowing to join French authorities in hunting down the terrorists responsible for the worst attack on Paris since World War II.
“The skies are darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in Paris,” Obama declared after meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan ahead of the opening of a two-day meeting of leaders representing the world’s top 20 economies. “We stand in solidarity with them in hunting down the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice.”
Leaders said they were determined to counter violent extremism, recruitment and to prevent “terrorists” from exploiting technology, including the Internet.
“The direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, the incitement of terrorist acts and glorification of violence must be prevented,” they added.
Meanwhile, foreign ministers gathered in Vienna over the weekend to discuss a new plan to end the war. The current proposal appears to be based largely on a Russian initiative and envisions negotiations between embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and opposition groups starting by Jan. 1.
A more immediate option facing leaders was the possibility of France asking for help from its NATO allies. Only once in its 66-year-history – after 9/11 – has NATO’s communal defense obligation been invoked.
President Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said it was up to France whether to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter.