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Paris attacks: France bombs Islamic State HQ in Syria; hunts suspect who got away

A French defense official said "massive" airstrikes had destroyed two jihadi sites in Raqqa, Syria.

By: AP | Paris | Updated: November 16, 2015 7:56 am
Paris, Paris attack, isis, France, paris updates, paris isis attack, isisi attack , isis attack paris, Syria, Raqqa, Raqqa bombing, France bombs Raqqa, France news, Syria news, World News In wake of Paris attacks, France bombed to jihadi facilities in Raqqa, Syria. (Image: Google Maps)

As police launched an international manhunt for a key suspect in the Paris attacks on Sunday, French officials told  that police had already found him near the border, but released him after an ID check.

Also Sunday, a French defense official said “massive” airstrikes had destroyed two jihadi sites in Raqqa, Syria.

French police broadcast the name and image of Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old born in Brussels, across Europe, warning that he is very dangerous. “Do not intervene yourself,” his warrant says.

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Four French officials acknowledged that police had Abdeslam in their grasp, when they stopped a car carrying him and two other men near the Belgian border early Saturday. By then, hours had passed since authorities identified Abdeslam as the renter of a Volkswagen Polo that carried hostage takers to the Paris theater where so many were killed.

READ: First clues to 13/11 near home of concert hall killer in Paris suburb

Three French police officials and a top French security official confirmed that officers let Abdeslam go after checking his ID. They spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authorization to publicly disclose such details.

By Sunday, police detained seven people in Belgium, but Abdeslam was still missing.

Paris, Paris attack, isis, France, paris updates, paris isis attack, isisi attack , isis attack paris, Syria, Raqqa, Raqqa bombing, France bombs Raqqa, France news, Syria news, World News This undated file photo released Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris, as police investigations continue. (Police Nationale via AP)

Meanwhile, tantalizing clues about the extent of the plot came from Baghdad, where senior Iraqi officials said that France and other countries had been warned on Thursday of an imminent attack.

An Iraqi intelligence dispatch warned that Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had ordered his followers to immediately launch gun and bomb attacks and take hostages inside the countries of the coalition fighting them in Iraq and Syria.

The Iraqi dispatch  provided no details on when or where the attack would take place, and a senior French security official said that French intelligence gets these kinds of warnings “all the time” and “every day.”

READ: ‘I couldn’t sleep for two nights, I kept hearing screams in my head’

However, Iraqi intelligence officials said that they also warned France about specific details: Among them, that the attackers were trained for this operation and sent back to France from Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de-facto capital.

The officials also said that a sleeper cell in France then met with the attackers after their training and helped them to execute the plan. There were 24 people involved in the operation, they said: 19 attackers and five others in charge of logistics and planning.

Paris, Paris attack, isis, France, paris updates, paris isis attack, isisi attack , isis attack paris, Syria, Raqqa, Raqqa bombing, France bombs Raqqa, France news, Syria news, World News A bullet hole in the window of the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, where attacks took place on Friday. (AP Photo)

None of these details have been corroborated by officials of France or other Western intelligence agencies.

All these French and Iraqi security and intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation.

Abdeslam is one of three brothers believed to be involved; One who crossed with him into Belgium was later arrested, and another blew himself up inside the Bataclan theater after taking the audience hostage and firing on them repeatedly. It was the worst of Friday’s synchronized attacks, leaving 89 fatalities and hundreds of people wounded inside.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility. Its statement mocked France’s air attacks on suspected IS targets in Syria and Iraq, and called Paris “the capital of prostitution and obscenity.”

In all, three teams of attackers including seven suicide bombers attacked the national stadium, the concert hall and nearby nightspots. The attacks wounded 350 people, 99 of them seriously.

Abdeslam rented the black Volkswagen Polo used by the hostage-takers, another French security official said. A Brussels parking ticket found inside led police to at least one of the arrests in Belgium, a French police official said.

Three Kalashnikovs were found inside another car known to have been used in the attacks that was found in Montreuil, an eastern Parisian suburb, another a French police official said.

As many as three of the seven suicide bombers were French citizens, as was at least one of the men arrested in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussells, which authorities consider to be a focal point for extremists and fighters going to Syria from Belgium.

One, identified by the print on a recovered finger, was 29-year-old Frenchman Ismael Mostefai, who had a record of petty crime and had been flagged in 2010 for ties to Islamic radicalism, the Paris prosecutor said. A judicial official and lawmaker Jean-Pierre Gorges confirmed his identity.

Police detained Mostefai’s father, a brother and other relatives Saturday night, and they were still being questioned Sunday, the judicial official said.

These details stoked fears of homegrown terrorism in France, which has exported more jihadis than any other in Europe, and seen many return from the fight. All three gunmen in the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris were French.

The attackers inside the Bataclan seemed quite young, according to one survivor, Julien Pearce, a journalist at Europe 1 radio who escaped by crawling onto the stage, and then out an exit door when the shooters paused to reload. Before making his final dash, he got a good look at one of the assailants, he said.

“He seemed very young. That’s what struck me, his childish face, very determined, cold, calm, frightening,” Pearce said.

Struggling to keep his country calm and united after an exceptionally violent year, President Francois Hollande met Sunday with opposition leaders — conservative rival and former President Nicolas Sarkozy as well as increasingly popular far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has used the attacks on Paris to advance her anti-immigrant agenda.

Refugees fleeing war by the tens of thousands fear the Paris attacks could prompt Europe to close its doors, especially after police said a Syrian passport found next to one attacker’s body suggested its owner passed through Greece into the European Union and on through Macedonia and Serbia last month.

Paris remains on edge amid three days of official mourning. French troops have deployed by the thousands and tourist sites remain shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth. Panic ensued Sunday night as police abruptly cleared hundreds of mourners from the famed Place de la Republique square, where police said firecrackers sparked a false alarm.

“Whoever starts running starts everyone else running,” said Alice Carton, city council member who was at the square. “It’s a very weird atmosphere. The sirens and screaming are a source of fear.”

Officers also moved in, guns drawn, after mourners panicked near the Carillon bar, where crowds have laid flowers and lit candles in memory of the 15 people killed there.

“Lots of people started running and screaming from the Carillon…tables were overturned, plates shattered. It was a terrible panic,” said Jonathan Dogan, who took shelter in a nearby hotel. “I think people are terrified,” Dogan said.

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  1. C
    Nov 16, 2015 at 5:13 am
    Australian PM Julia Gillard should be made Queen of the world. What she has said requires a lot of courage and confidence. All the countries in the world should have leaders like her. She says "Muslims, who are demanding Sharia law have been asked to leave Australia by wednesday because Australia sees fanatic muslims as terrorists. Each and every mosque will be searched and muslims will cooperate with us in this process. All the muslims who have migrated from other countries to Australia will have to adept and change themselves as per our country and not expect us to change as per them. If they are unable to do so, they are most welcome to leave Australia. A lot of Australian are worried that we may be insulting a particular religion....but I ure the people of Australia that whatever is being done is for the betterment of Australia and its people. We speak English here and not Arabic or urdu or any othe islamic language so if you want to stay in our country you better learn to speak English. In Australia we believe in Jesus who is our God and we believe in God. Just because we believe in and follow Christianity and no other religion, does not make us Communal which is why you will find God's Pictures and religious books everywhere. If you have any objection to this, you are free to leave Australia and go anywhere else in the world. Australia is our land, our country and this is our culture. We do not follow your religion but we respect your sentiments which is why if you want to read koran and offer namaz, please do not create noise pollution by using speakers and reading out loudly. Please DO NOT Read Koran or offer prayers in our schools, offices or public places. You can do so in the quiet of your home or in a mosque which will not inconvenience us. If you have any issues with our national flag or national anthem or our religion or our lifestyle, kindly leave Australia at this very moment and never ever return back". Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard 👏👏👍 Indian Politicians and Leaders please learn something from her. Long live India Really impressed me👍hats off to her
    1. C
      Nov 16, 2015 at 5:47 am
      Instead of Bombing the Terrorist countries be surrounded with no flight enforced with nothing going in or out including water and all electricity, Petrol Pumps, vegetable markets and such other sustaining facilities destro till they destroy all the training camps, all arms surrendered, and all known radicals and all mosque destro and allow English to open and every child goes to such schools, and bring them ALL Civil Law instead of Mohammedan Law. No more than 1 marriage, 2 children and marriage not allowed unless emplo and literate. No verbal talaq valid, prayers not allowed in public place, no azan allowed, no halal food and compulsory Vande Matram, National Anthem, no Beef allowed.
      1. C
        Nov 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm
        My friend just take vacation from Islam for a day and you will see a difference. The very fact that you freely comment on this board is because of our tolerance to other's view, can you do that in any Islamic gathering. No matter how educated you are and how strongly you feel but still YOU cannot raise a contrary belief to yours following, that came much after when the WORLD was peaceful. DO YOU TRULY ACCEPT the treatment proscribed for Kafirs or Kufars and Taqiya by Quran. How violent it is for Quran to differentiate between "Believer" and Kafirs. If you had a child going to convent school and the teacher gave "Kafir's" treatment to your child how would you feel. Islam is violent in its very basis. You start your prayers with win over Kafirs, convert or kill them. Before your Allah came into existence there were people and lives and since your Allah has come into existence it nothing but Quran justified killings and nothing but violence. So you are an articulate person just think logivally. Listen to Tarek Fateh, Han Nissar Both of stan and open your eyes to the world.
        1. C
          Nov 16, 2015 at 5:53 am
          None of the Muslims on this board have condemned the France attack
          1. C
            Nov 16, 2015 at 5:30 am
            Only if West were to resolutely respond to Bombay attack by making the planners, supporters and directors - stanis, ISI, stani Govt, Saeed, Lakhvi, and the Dawood Company were to held responsible and may be France would not have happened. I am sure there is a link of stan in France. The very fact Bombay Attack was successful encouraged France attack thus stan is directly responsible.
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