BREAKING: France launches air strikes against Islamic State ‘capital’ Raqqa

BREAKING: France launches air strikes against Islamic State ‘capital’ Raqqa

France has carried out its first offensive against the Islamic State as Paris struggles to get back on its feet after multiple gun and bomb attacks went off across the city on Friday night local time, killing a confirmed 129 people.

Twenty bombs were dropped by French fighter jets on IS’ de facto capital in Syria, the city of Al-Raqqah, on Sunday evening local time. Raqqa is located approximately 160km from Aleppo and was captured by ISIL forces in March 2013 during the Syrian Civil War.

The simultaneous air strikes were launched from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, in conjunction with U.S. forces.

“The first target destroyed was used by Daesh (another Arabic acronym for IS) as a command post, jihadist recruitment centre and arms and munitions depot,” the French defence ministry said in a statement.

“The second held a terrorist training camp.”

The raid comes two days after IS claimed responsibility for the coordinated terror attacksthat targeted seven locations in Paris, including the Stade de France, Bataclan concert hall, and various restaurants and bars.

It is the second attack on Raqqa in the span of just a few days. On Nov. 13, U.S. forces had conducted air strikes on the city, targetting British citizen Mohamed Emwazi, also known asJihadi John.

Emwazi is known for participating in the videos showing the murders of U.S. journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages.

The attack was part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a U.S.-led campaign against ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Coalition nations conducting strikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and recently, Australia.

French President Francois Hollande, who was evacuated from the Stade de France after a bomb went off at one of the gates, called the attacks an “act of war”. He also publicly vowed to be “merciless” in France’s retaliation towards “the barbarians of Islamic State group”.

He will address a joint session of Parliament on Monday.