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France has launched 'massive' airstrikes on Isis in Syria

Some 20 bombs are reported to have been dropped, and an ISIS command centre and training camp destroyed.

12249814_934100419969017_8195729081619675317_n Source: French Army via Facebook

AN OFFICIAL FROM France’s Ministry of Defence has described as “massive” a series of airstrikes launched tonight on the Islamic State group’s de facto capital in Syria.

In an official statement tonight, the ministry said that the strikes on Raqqa involved 12 aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, and 20 bombs were dropped.

On Facebook, the French Army posted video of some of the fighter jets departing on their mission, and announced:

Tonight, at 7.50 pm and 8.25 pm (6.50 pm and 7.25 pm Irish time), a dozen French aircraft from the Chammal force struck and destroyed, in an air raid, an ISIS command centre and training camp in Raqqa, Syria.

A longer statement from the Defence Ministry said tonight’s operation had been launched from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The air raid was made up of 12 French aircraft, 10 of them fighter jets, which were simultaneously launched from the UAE and Jordan. Twenty bombs were dropped.
Planned in advance by French reconnaissance missions, this operation was conducted in cooperation with American forces.
The first destroyed target was used by ISIS as a command post, jihadi recruitment centre and arms and munitions depot.
The second was home to a terrorist training camp.

raqqamap The ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, marked with a star on this map of Syria. Source: Google Maps

Speaking from the site of Friday’s Bataclan theatre siege, in which some 80 people were killed, French President Francois Hollande vowed that his country’s response would be “without mercy.”

According to French newspaper Le Figaro, the country’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke twice by phone today with his American counterpart Ashton Carter.

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In what has been called a “turning-point” in the two nations’ cooperation in the battle against ISIS, the two men reportedly agreed on a number of “concrete measures.”

This will include enhanced intelligence sharing and an intensification of strikes on strategically valuable ISIS targets – including training camps, command centres, and oil infrastructure, which is a crucial source of financing for the group.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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Dan MacGuill

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