On Nov 13, the French capital suffered the worst terror attack of any major European city since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. At least three groups of attackers armed with automatic weapons and suicide bomber vests targeted innocent civilians. They opened fire at street-side cafes, restaurants and a popular concert hall, and they tried to break into a soccer stadium, where French officials were watching a match. The attackers killed at least 132 people and wounded more than 400, French authorities have said.
“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France,” French president Francois Hollande declared. Daesh is another name for the terrorist group Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL. Hollande also declared a national state of emergency and three days of mourning. As retaliation, France sent warplanes to strike Islamic State militants in Syria on Nov 15.
The attacks come at a time when France and other European countries are already fearful of “violent jihadists radicalized by the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere”, said The New York Times.
France stepped up its participation in the military air campaign in Syria at the end of September, according to The New York Times.
The Paris attacks are the latest events to suggest that the Islamic State’s regional war in Syria and Iraq has transformed into a global one. On Nov 12, more than 40 people were killed in Beirut, Lebanon, in a similar suicide bombing. Earlier this month, more than 200 people died in the explosion of a Russian plane over Egypt. The Islamic States claimed responsibility for both events.
The threat of the Islamic State was the focus in a summit meeting of leaders from the Group of 20 (G20) nations that started on Nov 15 in Turkey. A New York Times analysis said that the recent terrorist attacks might prompt the US and its Western allies to adopt a more aggressive strategy toward the Islamic State. The Obama administration has authorized air strikes in Syria and sent small teams of troops as advisers to forces fighting on the ground against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But Obama has strongly resisted sending more troops to the region to avoid repeating what he sees as the mistakes of the Iraq War, according to The New York Times.