France seeks EU security aid, launches new airstrikes in IS

Paris: France made an unprecedented demand for its European Union allies to support its military action against the Islamic State group as it launched new airstrikes on the militants' Syrian stronghold, days after attacks in Paris linked to the group killed at least 129 people.

France invoked a never-before-used article of the EU's Lisbon Treaty obliging members of the 28-nation bloc to give 'aid and assistance by all the means in their power' to a member country that is 'the victim of armed aggression on its territory.'

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said EU partners could help "either by taking part in France's operations in Syria or Iraq, or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations."

French military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said the latest airstrikes in the Islamic State group's de-facto capital of Raqqa destroyed a command post and training camp.

The Paris attacks on Friday, claimed by IS, have galvanized international determination to confront the militants.

President Francois Hollande on Monday vowed to forge a united coalition capable of defeating the jihadists at home and abroad. Hollande has said the victims came from at least 19 nations, and the international community, led by the US and Russia, must overcome their deep-seated divisions over Syria to destroy IS on its home turf.

US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to France as a gesture of solidarity and met Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius today. Standing with Hollande at the Elysee Palace, Kerry said the carnage in the French capital on Friday, along with recent attacks in Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey, made it clear that more pressure must be brought to bear on the Islamic extremists.

Kerry said, "we have to step up our efforts to hit them at the core where they're planning these things and also obviously to do more on borders in terms the movement of people."

Earlier, he told US Embassy staff Friday's attacks were an assault on civilization and common decency. "This is just raw terror," he said, vowing that the campaign against IS will succeed. "We will end the scourge of Daesh," he said, referring to the group by its Arabic acronym.

French police have used emergency powers to conduct almost 300 searches since Sunday night that netted 127 arrests and 31 weapons.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve today said that police carried out 128 police raids overnight, as he conceded that "the majority of those who were involved in this attack were unknown to our services."

Police have seized a Kalashnikov assault rifle, three automatic pistols and a bulletproof vest from a suspected arms dealer with jihadist sympathies, and a rocket launcher and other military-grade gear from his parents' home. But police have yet to announce the capture of anyone suspected of direct involvement in Friday's slaughter.

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