Islamic State fighters killed as France leads air strikes on Raqqa


A US-led alliance and Russian Federation have separately stepped up airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria, activists reported on Wednesday after the extremist militia claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks internationally.

In Moscow, the Kremlin acknowledged that a bomb had destroyed the jet last month, killing 224 people.

Islamic State has come under increasing military pressure in recent days, losing the city of Sinjar in Iraq to Kurdish and Yazidi forces backed by USA air strikes, a defeat that severed a crucial link between its two major urban centres, Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that British forces should attack the “head of the snake” and said he would make the case for a bombing in Syria. “It must be intensified in such a way that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable”, he added. Abdullah, a Syrian concierge in Beirut who reached his sister in Raqqa on Tuesday, said that in the case of the seven French airstrikes on Monday, “all these strikes are targeting abandoned empty locations”. A French official said Tuesday that France is hoping for a coordinated plan by the end of next week, and sees signs that Russian Federation is ready to compromise on its backing for Assad.

Syrian targets hit by Russian long-range bombers and cruise missiles on Tuesday included the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

President Obama responded to the pleas by inviting French President Francois Hollande to visit Washington for talks next week, for what the White House said will be a discussion on deepening French cooperation in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State and to “reiterate our shared determination to confront the scourge of terrorism”. The regime of president Bashar al-Assad recently broke a one-year siege of a strategic military base in the province of Aleppo – another setback for the militants.

French jets have repeatedly bombed Islamic State’s de facto capital, Raqqa, this week.

A French jihadist named Fabien Clain made an audio recording of the terror group statement claiming the Paris attacks that were published online, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Despite his allegiance to the Syrian government, Shadi said that as a practical matter government airstrikes tended to hit less precisely, whereas American ones had sometimes been accurate enough to kill Islamic State commanders in their cars. He also suggested there may be needed to change the French constitution to incorporate notions of “state of emergency” and “state of siege”.

Obama administration officials assured 34 governors on a conference call on Tuesday that refugees would undergo the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States.

“This has considerably cut down the militants’ capability for an illegal export of energy resources and, consequently, for getting the revenues for the contraband”, he said.

Its deployment was already planned before the attacks Friday that left 129 dead and hundreds wounded. The official said the Russian strikes are not affecting coalition operations against ISIS in any way.

Russian Federation provided the US military with the advance warning before launching the latest attacks, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a military spokesman in Iraq.

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Carette said his client, Mohammed Amri, suspected nothing when his friend Abdeslam, 26, called two hours after the attacks for a ride to Brussels and said his auto had broken down.

“The skies above the Islamic State-held areas in Iraq and Syria are getting very crowded”, he said.

“There were networks of folks in Raqqa endeavoring to conduct similar attacks in the U.S. We killed a lot of them”, the official said.


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