French fighter planes have carried out their biggest bombing raid in Syria by dropping 20 bombs on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria.
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.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France had the “legitimacy” to take action against IS after the terror attacks in Paris which left 132 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”.
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.”
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.”
The French raids follow US airstrikes on Raqqa last week which reportedly killed the British militant Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”.
Emwazi appeared in a series of videos killing several Western hostages, including Britons David Haines and Alan Henning.
He is also thought to have beheaded Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.
‘Jihadi John’ Targeted By US
A Pentagon spokesman said later it was “reasonably certain” Emwazi had been killed by a Hellfire missile from a drone.
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 today at the Palace of Versailles.
World leaders at the G20 summit in Turkey will join France in observing a minute of silence in remembrance of the Paris victims.
SOURCE: SKY News