France launches airstrikes against ISIS

France has conducted its biggest airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria to date, just two days after the deadly attacks on Paris which killed more than 130 people.

The defence ministry says 10 fighter jets targeted the Islamic State’s stronghold in Raqqa, dropping 20 bombs on the site which struck a command center, recruitment center, a munitions depot and a training camp.

Google Maps/Amanda Macias/Business Insider.

The raid, which was France’s first major airstrikes on the region, was carried out in coordination with US forces which will “provide whatever support the French government may require,” according to US secretary John Kerry.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that the US announced that it will expand its intelligence sharing with France via “targeting packages” that will help French warplanes identify ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also said China committed to working with France in combating terrorism.

“Terrorism is a common challenge facing humanity. China resolutely supports France in maintaining its national security and stability and in attacking terrorism,” Hong said.

French President Francois Hollande has attributed the attacks on his country to IS and said, the “act of war” was prepared with complicity from the inside.

The French government has launched an investigation to help establish how this happened.

Rodger Shanahan, Associate Professor at the Australian National University’s National Security College and a Lowy Institute Research Fellow, says the terror attacks were characterised by “a degree of complexity that we haven’t seen before”, and that it should raise concerns for intelligence agencies that there may be other well-trained terrorist cells preparing similar plans

“It shows we’re not dealing with amateurs,” Shanahan told Business Insider.

The RAAF has been carrying out operations against IS targets in Syria since September this year, around the same time France become involved.

Yesterday prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia could become more involved in Syria, pending discussions with allied governments.

“Australia is making a very significant contribution and has done for some time and will consider what future contributions and what the shape of it will be in the light of those discussions,” Turnbull said.

“But, it is a theatre in which greater co-ordination is needed by all of the players and ultimately while a military defeat of Daesh is critically important, longer term overall to settle Syria and to enable the refugees to return, you’re going to need a political solution.”

As the fallout from the attacks continues, international security experts are saying that they aren’t surprised that France was targeted.

Under President Francois Hollande, France launched its first airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria in September. The country is also a closer and more opportunistic target for extremist groups.

Witnesses at the Bataclan say the gunmen even shouted in French, “This is because of all the harm done by Hollande to Muslims all over the world,” according to The New York Times.

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