France Pounds IS Stronghold With 20 Bombs

French fighter planes have carried out their biggest bombing raid in Syria by dropping 20 bombs on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

The bombers hit a jihadi recruitment centre, training camp and arms depot run by the extremist group, according to the French defence ministry.

A spokesman described it as a "massive" attack and France's biggest to date in Syria.

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More than 30 explosions were reportedly heard across the city.

The strikes hit military targets on the northern and southern edges of the city and no civilians were killed, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The head of the group, Rami Abdurrahman, said there were IS casualties but did not provide a number.

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French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France had the "legitimacy" to take action against IS after the terror attacks in Paris which left 129 people dead.

He said the decision to conduct airstrikes was a "political" one and that France had to be "present and active" following the atrocity.

The aerial raid was launched from air bases in United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and involved France's 12 fighter bombers based there.

IS fighters said they carried out the gun and bomb massacre - calling Paris "the capital of prostitution and obscenity".

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Sky's Sam Kiley, in northern Iraq, said the French airstrikes should not be seen as a "wanton act of revenge" or carpet-bombing campaign.

"I think it's very clear that the French and the wider coalition have decided in a sense to give France the iron fist at least for the next 24 hours or so," he said.

"The coalition has a number of targets of opportunity, targets provided by intelligence.

"The scale of these French airstrikes should not be seen as a wanton act of revenge, but really the French basically saying to their allies, 'we want to do all of the airstrikes' over the next period of time - however long that may be."

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Kiley added: "I think essentially what's gone on here is the coalition have said 'this is your turn to hit back as France rather than as the coalition'.

"But I don't think this should be seen as some kind of carpet-bombing campaign.

"These are extremely precise airstrikes that are carried out after exhaustive legal processes required under French and international law."

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The French airstrikes come as a huge number of raids took place across France, with a number of people held in Lyon.

A rocket launcher, Kalashnikov assault rifle, pistols and a flak jacket were found by police in Lyon, according to TV station Bfmtv.

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said he knew attacks were being prepared - and more were still being planned in France and across Europe.

As he spoke about the threat facing other countries, special armed forces in Belgium raided properties in the Molenbeek district of Brussels during a three-hour operation,

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It was thought that Salah Abdeslam - who rented a car which was used to carry gunmen to the Bataclan in Paris- had been captured during the offensive, but he still remains the focus of a police manhunt.

A Belgian national - Abdelhamid Abaaoud - has been named the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks.

Abaaoud, currently in Syria, was reportedly also linked to thwarted attacks on a Paris-bound high-speed train and church.

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France has declared three days of national mourning and President Francois Hollande will make a rare address to the joint upper and lower houses of parliament later at the Palace of Versailles.

World leaders at the G20 summit in Turkey earlier joined people across Europe in observing a minute of silence in remembrance of the Paris victims.