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 130 people, the defence ministry said.
“The raid … including 10 fighter jets, was launched simultaneously from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Twenty bombs were dropped,” the statement said, adding that the mission had taken place this evening.
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, it said.
A defence official was quoted by Associated Press as saying the strikes were ‘massive’ and had destroyed two jihadi sites in Raqqa.
“The first target destroyed was used by Daesh (another Arabic acronym for IS) as a command post, jihadist recruitment centre and arms and munitions depot. The second held a terrorist training camp,” a ministry statement said.
In the aftermath of the attacks on Paris, the French President, François Hollande, said terrorists strikes were an “act of war” on France, “organised and planned from the outside”.
He said the attackers wanted “to scare us and fill us with dread”, but warned France’s retribution would be swift and unflinching.
“We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”
Information from inside Syria suggests the bombings had cut water and electricity supplies.
Activists in Raqqa have said the bombings have caused “panic” in the city.