France Conducts Anti-Terrorism Raids Across The Country In Reponse To Paris Attacks — REPORT
Early Monday morning, The Guardian reported French anti-terrorism forces conducted raids in Toulouse, Grenoble, Calais, and Jeumont, a commune close to the French border with Belgium, where Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve claimed ISIS commissioned "some persons" to execute the attacks. Raids were also reported in the Parisian suburb Bobigny, with about 20 police vehicles present. France's iTélé reported that at least three people were taken into custody in the Toulouse raids, and weapons were also seized in this area. At about 1 a.m. local time, a French local media outlet reported a weapon seizure and at least six arrests in Grenoble. The newspaper also reported an amount of cash was seized by police across 15 houses in Grenoble. The raids came just a few days after terrorists killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds more in a series of attacks in Paris on Friday evening. (Update: On Monday morning, French officials confirmed that 168 anti-terrorism raids took place across the country overnight. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said there were 23 people arrested, 31 weapons seized, and an additional 104 people put under house arrest, according to Agence France-Presse.)
French police are currently searching for Salah Abdeslam and others allegedly responsible for orchestrating Friday's attacks. However, it remains uncertain whether or not these anti-terrorism raids were directly linked with the terror attacks, although they were carried out under the national state of emergency declared by President François Hollande. Agence France-Presse reported that raids in Toulouse were just one aspect of a larger anti-terrorism operation.
According to The Guardian, the forces conducting the raids were RAID (Recherche Assistance Intervention Dissuasion), and GIPN (Groupes d'Intervention de la Police Nationale), both of which were tactical units of the French national police force.
These raids began just hours after France carried out airstrikes over ISIS headquarters in Northern Syria on Sunday. The airstrikes were led by a dozen aircraft, which included 10 fighter jets, and destroyed a militant training camp and command and weapons center in Islamic State's declared capital of Raqqa in Syria, according to the French Defense Ministry. Early Monday morning, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France had the "legitimacy" to strike against ISIS after what happened in Paris, CBS News reported. However, ISIS has since claimed the airstrikes resulted in no casualties, and that the targets struck were "abandoned sites."
CBS News also reported that "Fabius said Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Turkey that the decision to conduct airstrikes in Raqqa against Islamic State targets was a 'political' one and that France had to be 'present and active' following Friday's attacks."
The Los Angeles Times reported these airstrikes constituted the biggest bombardment by France since the country expanded its aerial campaign against ISIS in September, utilizing targeting information from U.S. intelligence.