French warplanes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria on Sunday as police in Europe widened their investigations into coordinated assaults in Paris that killed more than 130 people.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday's suicide bombings and shootings, which have re-ignited a row over Europe's refugee crisis and drawn calls to block a huge influx of Muslim asylum-seekers.
French police have launched an international hunt for a Belgian-born man they believe helped organise the assaults with two of two brothers. One of the brothers died in the two attacks, while the second is under arrest in Belgium, a judicial source said.
A further two French suicide attackers have been identified, police said, while the identity of four other assailants, who were all killed, was still under review.
France has been bombing Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria for months as part of a U.S.-led operation. Following Friday's mayhem, Paris vowed to destroy the group. Underlining its resolve, French planes on Sunday launched their biggest raids in Syria to date, reaching its stronghold in Raqqa.
“The raid … including 10 fighter jets, was launched simultaneously from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Twenty bombs were dropped, ” the Defence Ministry said. Among the targets were a munitions depot and training camp, it said.
There was no word on casualties or the damage inflicted.
The Paris attacks were considered causing a short-term sell-off in global stock markets and Asian shares fell on Monday, but few strategists expected a prolonged economic impact or change in persisting market directions.
SEVEN HELD IN BELGIUM
The investigation into Friday's assaults, the worst atrocity in France since World War Two, resulted swiftly to Belgium after police detected two of the cars used by the Islamist activists had been rented in the Brussels region.
By Sunday, Belgian officials said they had arrested seven people in Brussels. But one of the people who had hired the cars slipped through the fingers of the police. He was pulled over on the French-Belgian border on Saturday, but later released.
Police named the man they were seeking as Salah Abdeslam, saying the 26 -year-old was “dangerous”. Although he was born in Brussels, French authorities said he was a French national.
“The abject assaults that reach us on Friday were prepared abroad and mobilised a squad in Belgium that benefited … from help in France, ” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters after fulfilling his Belgian counterpart in Paris.
Stunned by the carnage, thousands of people horded to makeshift commemorations at four of the sites where the two attacks took place, laying blooms and illuminating candles to recollect the dead.
“We are living a nightmare, ” said Caroline Pallut, whose 37 -year-old cousin Maud Serrault died when gunmen attacked the Bataclan concert hall, killing at least 89 people – the bloodiest single incident on Friday night.
“It is all so senseless. She had only just got married.”
The death toll rose to 132, with three more people succumbing on Sunday from their meanders. Some 103 have been identified, including many young people and many foreigners, out relaxing on a Friday night in one of the world's most visited cities.
In a sign that at least one gunman might have escaped, information sources close to the investigation said a Seat car believed to have been used by the attackers had been found in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil with three Kalashnikov rifles inside.
Police have formally named just one of the attackers: Ismael Omar Mostefai, 29, from Chartres, southwest of Paris. He was identified by the publish from one of his fingers that was severed when his suicide vest exploded.
French media named the two other French assailants as Bilal Hadfi and Ibrahim Abdeslam.
Police said they had seen a Syrian passport near one of the other dead gunmen. Greece said the passport holder had intersected from Turkey to the Greek islands last month and then registered for asylum in Serbia before heading north, following a road taken by hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers this year.
The news resuscitated a furious a row within the European Union on how to handle the flood of refugees. Top Polish and Slovak officials poured cold water on an EU plan to relocate asylum seekers across the bloc, saying the violence underlined their concerns about taking in Muslim refugees.
Bavarian allies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a reversal of her “open-door” refugee policy, saying the two attacks highlighted the need for tougher controls.
“The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can't continue just like that. Paris changes everything, ” Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
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 on Monday at the Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris.
Illustrating the jittery mood in the French capital, hundreds of people gathered at a makeshift memorial in Place de la Republique scattered in anxiety on Sunday night when they thought shoots had rung out. It was a false alarm, police said.
Speaking in Vienna, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said his country's intelligence services had shared information indicating that France, the United States and Iran were among countries at risk of an attack.
At a G20 summit in Turkey, U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to step up efforts to eliminate Islamic State and prevent it carrying out assaults like those in Paris. EU leaders recommended Russia to focus its military attempts on the radical Islamists.
France was the first European nation to join U.S. air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, in September 2014, while a year later it extended its air strikes to Syria. Russia began its own air campaign in Syria in October, but has been targeting principally areas controlled by another group opposed to its friend, President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's critics say.
France had already been on high alert since Islamist gunmen stormed the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris in January, killing 17 people.
Those assaults briefly united France in defence of freedom of speech, with a mass demonstration of more than a million people. But far-right populist Marine Le Pen is now stimulating gains by blaming France's security problems on immigration and Islam.
“By spreading out migrants through the the towns and towns of France, there is a fear that terrorists will take advantage of these population flows to reach out at us, ” she said after fulfilling the French chairperson on Sunday.
( Additional reporting by Matthias Blamont, John Irish, Leigh Thomas, Ingrid Melander, Michael Nienaber, Matt Spetalnick, Dasha Afanasieva, Stephen Kalin, Saif Hameed, Anthony Paone, Marine Pennetier, Barbara Lewis, Robert-Jan Bartunek, Claire Watson and Rodrigo Campos; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Philippa Fletcher, Kevin Liffey and Alex Richardson)
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