- The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 17, 2015

France on Tuesday demanded that the 28 nations of the European Union invoke the political bloc’s national defense clause in wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, becoming the first country to do so, and it continued its airstrikes against militants in Syria.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s defense minister, made the demand in Brussels saying EU member nations should help the security situation “either by taking part in France’s operations in Syria or Iraq, or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations,” USA Today reported.

The mutual defense clause of the Treaty of the European Union says that “if a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states shall have toward it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power.”

The article has never been invoked before. France’s request received unanimous support, USA Today said.

What exact steps will be taken by other countries to aid France were not immediately clear.

Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defense minister, said in Brussels that Germany would do “all in our power to offer help and support” but that Tuesday was “not a day of concrete actions” but a “day of listening,” according to USA Today.

A series of shootings and suicide bombings in Paris carried out by Islamic State supporters left 129 dead and 352 injured.

French President Francois Hollande called the terrorist attacks acts of war.

Following the attacks, France launched additional airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, and police conducted dozens of new raids overnight.

French military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said the latest airstrikes in the Islamic State group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa destroyed a command post and training camp. On Monday, Mr. Hollande vowed to forge a united coalition capable of defeating the jihadists at home and abroad.

Addressing lawmakers Monday, after France observed a minute’s silence to honor the dead and wounded, Mr. Hollande said, “Friday’s acts of war were decided and planned in Syria.”

“They were organized in Belgium and perpetrated on our soil with French complicity with one specific goal: to sow fear and to divide us,” Mr. Hollande told parliament in a rare joint session convened at the Palace of Versailles.

Mr. Hollande said Syria has become “the biggest factory of terrorism the world has ever known and the international community is still too divided and too incoherent.”

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that police carried out 128 police raids overnight, as he conceded that “the majority of those who were involved in this attack were unknown to our services.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. has agreed to exchange more information with France and said he is confident the Islamic State will feel even greater pressure from ramped-up military campaigns in the coming weeks. 

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