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French warplanes strike IS group stronghold in Syria

AFP file photo

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 129 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.

The air strikes were launched on the opening day of the G20 summit in Turkey where world leaders in a draft statement raised the alarm over an escalating international movement of "foreign terrorist fighters".

Heads of the Group of 20 top world economies said they would share intelligence, track border crossings and boost aviation security to prevent international travel by "terrorists," without identifying the Islamic State group or any other specific threat.

"We are concerned over the acute and growing flow of foreign terrorist fighters and the threat it poses for all states," the G20 chiefs said in a draft statement obtained by AFP a day ahead of its formal adoption at their meeting in the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

"We are resolved to address this threat," they said.

Leaders said they were determined to counter violent extremism, recruitment and to prevent "terrorists" from exploiting technology, including the internet.

"The direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, the incitement of terrorist acts and glorification of violence must be prevented," they added.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers gathered in Vienna over the weekend to discuss a new plan to end the war. The current proposal appears to be based largely on a Russian initiative and envisions negotiations between embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and opposition groups starting by January 1.

A more immediate option facing leaders was the possibility of France asking for help from its NATO allies. Only once in its 66-year-history - after 9/11 - has NATO's communal defense obligation been invoked.

Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said it was up to France whether to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter.

European Union leader Donald Tusk called on G-20 leaders to show "full determination" against terrorism and urged cooperation to prevent terror financing - a step that nations have already been pursuing for more than a year.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the response should be "robust, but always within the rule of law."


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