Europe must be prepared for new terrorist attacks, while a terrorist threat remains across France for years to come, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned.
“Terrorists can hit again in the coming days or weeks. We should not be afraid. We should be prepared for it,” he said in an interview with RTL France radio station. Valls also said that France is at war with terrorism and will act accordingly. “We will respond blow for blow,” he said. “We will act, we will strike and we will win.”
The terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday were designed in Syria, according to Valls. He added that more terrorist attacks are still being prepared by ISIS, the Syria- and Iraq-based terrorist group that claimed responsibility for Friday attacks.
Valls also warned that not only France is in danger of being attacked by terrorists, but also other European states.
A series of terrorist attacks on Friday night in Paris left 129 people dead and more than 350 injured. It was the worst instance of violence in France since the end of the World War II.
France launches ‘chaotic’ airstrikes in revenge for terrorist attacks
In retaliation for the terrorist attacks, French warplanes launched massive offensive late Sunday on ISIS targets in Raqqa, Syria, which is the terrorist group’s de facto capital.
The French Defense Ministry said that 10 French warplanes dropped 20 bombs on facilities, including a command center, an arms depot and a militant-training facility, used by Islamic State, after coordination with U.S. defense officials who helped with the targeting.
Opposition activists that reside in Raqqa said the French airstrikes were extremely chaotic in their nature: dropping at least 30 bombs, French warplanes hit, among other things, medical facilities, a museum and a local football stadium, according to opposition activists, as reported by Chicago Tribune. Furthermore, the airstrikes had cut electricity in the city of about 200,000 people.
Speaking at the G20 summit in Turkey, U.S. officials said the French airstrike operation was discussed between the two militaries, and during a series of telephone calls this weekend between U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his French counterpart. American warplanes have repeatedly hit Raqqa targets in recent months.
Iraqi intelligence knew about Paris attacks beforehand
Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Sunday that Iraqi intelligence had known before the Paris terrorist attacks that ISIS was planning an imminent terrorist attack overseas that targeted “in particular” France, the United States and Iran.
“We notified these countries and warned them,” Jaafari said in a statement. However, the statement did not mention when exactly Iraqi intelligence obtained the information, while U.S. intelligence officials did not confirm the report.
The Obama administration said the U.S. would not change its strategy against ISIS in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris even though the terrorist group claimed responsibility and is expanding its ability to carry out further terrorist attacks in Europe.
Over the past few weeks, U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered to intensify airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, and approved the deployment of 50 Special Operations troops to assist Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces pushing toward Raqqa.
U.S. officials also said that in response to Paris attacks, the White House is urging the world to unite for military actions against the terrorist group as well as to negotiate a settlement of the Syrian civil war.
French warplanes’ retaliation came amid Obama’s talks with allied leaders as well as with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the summit held in Turkey.
Act of war in Europe has begun on Friday
French authorities have identified two men who are believed to be responsible for planning and ordering the Paris terrorist attacks that killed 129 people.
French officials believe that Salim Benghalem, a French national, orchestrated the attacks, while Abdelhamid Abaaoud ordered them, according to NPR citing two sources close to the investigation in Paris. Both men are believed to be hiding in Syria.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of the terrorist attacks in Paris has been named as the leader of an ISIS cell who was on wanted list of police earlier this year but still remains at large.
French authorities believe that the 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud is the key player in organizing and executing the gun and suicide bomb attacks on Friday night.
Abaaoud is believed to be a Belgian of Moroccan origin and is considered by police as a wanted extremist after an armed battle in Belgium in January during a raid on an ISIS cell, in which two suspects were killed during a brutal gun battle.
On Friday, with automatic weapons and explosive devices, three ISIS teams carried out a series of well-planned terrorist attacks in six sites across Paris, including the national stadium, a crowded concert hall and several restaurants. ISIS then immediately claimed responsibility for the attack while French President François Hollande called it an “act of war.”
On Monday morning, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that ever since Friday attacks, the nation has conducted 168 raids, detaining 23 suspects and putting more than 100 under house arrest.
“It’s just a start,” Cazeneuve said. “These operations are going to continue, the response of the Republic will be huge, will be total.”
French prosecutor François Molins said that five out of seven of the dead ISIS terrorists have been identified, but police is still seeking an eighth suspect identified as 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam.