Hollande: Destroying Islamic State is a global concern
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Hollande: Destroying Islamic State is a global concern

In rare appearance at parliament, French president says he will meet Obama, Putin in coming days; vows more strikes on IS

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech to members of Parliament during an exceptional joint gathering of Parliament in Versailles on November 16, 2015, three days after 129 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack in France's history. (AFP PHOTO/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech to members of Parliament during an exceptional joint gathering of Parliament in Versailles on November 16, 2015, three days after 129 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack in France's history. (AFP PHOTO/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)

President Francois Hollande unveiled France’s riposte to Islamic State on Monday after its atrocities in Paris, vowing tough new anti-terror measures and intensified bombing of Syria in a historic speech to parliament. Destroying IS is a global concern, he said.

Friday’s “acts of war… were decided and planned in Syria, prepared and organized in Belgium (and) perpetrated on our soil with French complicity,” Hollande told an extraordinary meeting of both houses of parliament in Versailles.

Again describing the coordinated attacks that killed 129 people as “acts of war,” Hollande urged a global fightback to crush IS and said he would hold talks with his US and Russian counterparts on a new offensive.

“The need to destroy Daesh (IS)… concerns the entire international community,” he told lawmakers, who burst into an emotional rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem after his speech — only the second time in more than 150 years a French president has addressed a joint session of parliament.

On the domestic front, Hollande called for an extension of the state of emergency by three months and announced 8,500 new police and judicial jobs to help counter terrorism.

Security forces personnel walk past during ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / BELGA PHOTO / BENOIT DOPPAGNE)
Security forces personnel walk past during ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. (AFP/BELGA/Benoit Doppagne)

France and Belgium staged dozens of raids on suspected extremists as the manhunt continued for an eighth jihadist, including in a known radical hotspot in Brussels where some of the attackers are thought to have lived.

With emotions running high, thousands paused in the streets of Paris for a minute’s silence to remember those killed at nightspots and at the national stadium in the worst-ever attack on French soil.

Investigators identified two more extremists involved in the assault, including a Frenchman previously charged with planning a terror attack and a suicide bomber found with a Syrian passport, which has yet to be authenticated.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a G20 conference in Turkey, said the attacks proved the need for an international anti-terror coalition.

“I spoke about this at the United Nations… and the tragic events that followed have confirmed that we were right,” he said.

US President Barack Obama, also in Turkey, said a new deal had been agreed with France to speed up intelligence sharing.

During pre-dawn raids in the southeastern French city of Lyon, police found “an arsenal of weapons,” including a rocket launcher and Kalashnikov assault rifle.

More than 100 people have been placed under house arrest, 23 arrested and 31 weapons seized, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

As authorities scrambled to find those responsible, the grieving French tried to return to the humdrum of daily life.

Mountains of flowers and candles have been laid at the scenes of the attacks and in front of businesses that lost loved ones.

Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Christoph Ena)
Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, on November 15, 2015. (AP/Christoph Ena)

“We need to understand how this barbarism can exist and why France is paying this heavy price,” David Boy, a 52-year-old advertising agency boss said, his lips trembling as he lingered at one of the memorials on his way to work.

Metro trains were packed with commuters, pupils returned to schools and museums reopened, although a national state of emergency remained in place.

A social media campaign urged everyone to visit cafes and bars on Tuesday night.

In the face of “barbarism… culture is our biggest shield and our artists our best weapon,” said Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls steeled the nation for more bloodshed, telling RTL radio that more operations “are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too.”

Late on Sunday, French planes bombed the stronghold of the Islamic State jihadists.

French jets hit an IS command post, a recruitment center, a munitions depot and a training camp in Raqqa, northern Syria, and more raids were reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, the manhunt continued for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, one of three brothers linked to the attacks.

The arrest warrant issued for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, suspected of involvement in the November 13, 2015. terror attacks in Paris. 'Do not intervene yourself,' warns the message issued November 15, 2015.
The arrest warrant issued for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, suspected of involvement in the terror attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. ‘Do not intervene yourself,’ warns the message issued November 15, 2015.

One brother blew himself up in the Bataclan and was identified from a severed finger, while the third was arrested in Belgium but released without charge.

The brothers lived in the rundown Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, which has a reputation as a hotbed of Islamic militancy and where police have made several arrests.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, a Belgian of Moroccan descent also from Molenbeek and thought to be fighting with IS in Syria, is considered a possible mastermind of the attacks.

Five of seven known attackers have been identified, but it is unclear if other gunmen fled after the outrage.

Two of the gunmen behind the bloodbath at the Bataclan theatre, where 89 people were killed, have been identified as 29-year-old Paris native Omar Ismail Mostefai and 28-year-old Samy Amimour.

A Turkish official said its police had twice warned France about Mostefai, who was one of 10,000 people tagged by French intelligence as an extremist.

Amimour was charged in France in 2012 for “conspiracy to commit terrorism” over a foiled plot to carry out an attack in Yemen and was wanted on a global arrest warrant after violating the terms of his judicial supervision.

There are fears some of the assailants entered Europe as part of the huge influx of people fleeing Syria’s civil war, after a Syrian passport was found near the body of one suicide bomber at the Stade de France in the name of Ahmad Al Mohammad.

The document has yet to be verified and Serbia detained a migrant on Monday whose passport contained the same data.

Far-right French leader Marine Le Pen has already called for an “immediate halt” to the intake of migrants.

The attacks came less than 11 months after jihadists struck satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, killing 17.

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