French warplanes pounded the stronghold of the Takfiri group, ISIL (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) in Syria on Sunday, in the first such strikes since a wave of coordinated attacks claimed by the insurgents left 129 people dead in Paris.
As the nation prepared to mourn the victims of the carnage in a minute of silence on Monday, a dozen warplanes dropped 20 bombs on ISIL targets in Raqa, signaling the French government’s resolve in its fight against the group.
The strike destroyed an ISIL command post, militant recruitment centre, a munitions depot and a “terrorist” training camp, the French defense ministry said.
The air raids came after President Francois Hollande called the Paris attacks — the worst in the country’s history — an “act of war” and vowed to hit back “without mercy”.
As the probe into the assault spread across Europe, French police released a photograph of a “dangerous” suspect wanted over the attacks.
The suspect, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam said to be one of three brothers linked to the attacks, is also wanted by Belgium, which has issued an international arrest warrant for him.
He is believed to be either on the run or one of the gunmen who died during the attacks, security sources said. He lived in the poor immigrant Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, where Belgian police made several arrests in connection with the Paris attacks.
Security sources said the wanted man’s brother, 31-year-old Brahim Abdeslam, blew himself up outside a cafe on Boulevard Voltaire in eastern Paris, while the third brother is believed to be among seven people detained in Belgium.
Six other gunmen wearing suicide belts died during the attacks in the French capital — three at the Stade de France stadium and three at the Bataclan concert hall, the scene of the worst bloodshed.
The sports minister said at least one of the bombers who detonated their explosives near the stadium had tried to enter the venue where France was playing Germany in an international football match at the time.