'Massive' French airstrikes hit Islamic State to retaliate for attacks

Greg Toppo
In this screen grab from the French Air Force Facebook page, warplanes embark on retaliatory strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Nov. 15, 2015.

France's military launched "massive" retaliatory airstrikes against Islamic State sites in Syria on Sunday night, saying French aircraft struck a command center and training camp at Raqqa.

The French Air Force posted videos on its Facebook page of the planes embarking on the raid of the extremist group's de facto capital. The strikes come two days after the worst attacks in Paris since World War II. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks at six sites that killed 132 people and wounded hundreds more.

The French Defense Ministry said the strikes targeted a command post, a training camp and a weapons depot, dropping 20 bombs on Raqqa. It said 10 fighter jets in the operation came from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in coordination with U.S. forces.

Speaking in Turkey at the G-20 summit, French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius said, "France has always said that because she has been threatened and attacked by (Isis) it would be normal that she react in the framework of self defense," The Financial Times reported. "It would be normal to take action. That’s what we did with the strikes on Raqqa, which is their headquarter. We cannot let (Isis) act without reacting.”

A U.S.-led coalition that includes France has been conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since last year.

A group of anti-Islamic State activists in Syria called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently reported Sunday that at least 30 airstrikes had hit Raqqa "so far."

"No civilians hit so far, the hospitals are reporting. Electricity and water shut down. Panic among the civilians,” the group posted on its website. “Areas hit: Stadium, museum, hospital, government building (municipal).”

“It’s sad how it always falls on our heads. Pray for us,” the group said.

The group was created by 17 Syrian activists in April 2014 to document abuses by the Islamic State after the militant group took over and declared the northern Syrian city of Raqqa to be the caliphate’s capital.

Working anonymously for their safety, members of Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently secretly film and report from within the city and send the information to local and outside news media.

Contributing: Jabeen Bhatti