Hollande reiterates need to form "vast coalition" against IS despite existing divergence

2015-11-19 00:00:05 GMT2015-11-19 08:00:05(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

PARIS, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- "We must form a vast coalition to hit Daesh (IS) decisively," French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday, few days after the Islamist cell claimed it was responsible for the attacks of last Friday in Paris.

"The international community must rally around that spirit. I know very well that each country doesn't have the same interests and even allies," he told a gathering of city mayors after the police finished a raid on fugitive terrorists in Saint-Denis in northern Paris.

"I call on the international community to take part in what could destroy (Daech) army which threatens the whole world," he added.

In this context, Hollande said he would meet his American counterpart Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin next week to discuss "the necessary coordination of our action and how to work decisively and in the best delay to meet our objective (to eradicate IS insurgents)," he said.

France was the first European country to join U.S.-led coalition against IS. Its fighter jets have bombed the group in Iraq since 2014.

Paris decided at the end of September to strike Daech targets in Syria where hundreds of French nationals have been recruited and could return home to carry out attacks after being trained there.

However, Paris and Moscow are not coordinating their strikes in Syria where the fate of the president Bashar al-Assad is still overshadowing diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

Hollande's plead for an international offensive to combat Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq came after coordinated armed groups stormed restaurants at the capital's 10th and 11th districts and a theatre hall, as well as a national soccer stadium last Friday.

A raid was carried out early Wednesday morning in northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis following a tip-off the French police received on Monday indicating the presence of Abdelhamid Abaaoud in France.

"A new group of terrorists" was neutralized during the police raid with at least 2 terror suspects being killed and 8 arrested, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed to the press Wednesday evening during a press conference.

7 men and one woman were arrested during the raid. But, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Moroccan-origin Belgian jihadist who was believed to be the mastermind behind Friday night's attacks, and another important suspect, Salah Abdeslam, hunted since Nov. 15, were not among the 8 arrested, Molins confirmed.

Among the 7 arrested men, the Paris prosecutor said the identification of three men are underway.

However, Washington Post announced, before the press conference of the prosecutor, that Abaaoud was killed by the police during the raid.

At least two terror suspects were killed, including a woman who blew herself up, the first female suicide bombing reported in France, and a man whose identity has not been confirmed yet.

The woman suicide bomber, who had ties of kinship with Abaaoud, was monitored by the police since Tuesday for possible links with Abaaoud.

Molins also said that five police officers were injured during the raid.

The raid on fugitive terrorists was launched at 0420 local time (0320 GMT) in city center of Saint-Denis in northern Paris, a few hundred meters away from Stade de France where three suicide bombing took place last Friday.

Witnesses told BFMTV they heard "explosions" and "gunshots" since 0430 local time (0330 GMT). Gunshots could also be clearly heard from the Xinhua office, about six kilometers away.

In what is France's worst terror attack, at least 129 people were killed, including foreigners, and more than 300 others were wounded.

The deadly attacks that rocked France last Friday was "the act of absolute barbarism" and "an act of war" organized from abroad by Islamic State with internal complicities, French President Francois Hollande said.

Related:Full story

British warship to support French aircraft carrier in fight against IS

LONDON, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Britain's royal navy warship HMS Defender will support the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced Wednesday.

The ship will provide air defense cover for the French carrier to tackle IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS, according to the MoD.

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