Speaking just after the end of a police operation he described as “risky” and “heavy”, President Hollande told a conference of French mayors that the raid to the north of Paris targeted people linked to Friday’s deadly attacks in the French capital – and was aimed at neutralising the terrorists.
“These acts confirm once more for us that we are at war. A war against a terrorism that has decided itself to wage war against us,” he said.
He also spoke of the renewed airstrikes against ISIL in Syria.
France has called for a global coalition to defeat the radicals and has launched three large air strikes on Raqqa — the de-facto Islamic State capital in northern Syria. Russia has also targeted the city.
“The operations in Syria have been intensified. The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has just cast off (for the region). In the eastern Mediterranean it will allow us to multiply by three our capacity to carry out strikes. I have called on the international community to take its part (of responsibility) in what can only be a common task: to wipe out Daesh,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Wednesday the bombardments have killed at least 33 ISIL militants over the past three days.
The French president also responded to those criticising European policies towards migrants and refugees.
“Some have wanted to establish a link between the influx of refugees coming from the Middle East and the terrorist threat. The truth is that this link exists because the inhabitants of areas in Iraq and Syria flee because they are martyred (tormented) by the very same people we are attacking today.”
Hollande’s speech was greeted with applause and followed by a rendition of the Marseillaise from the assembled mayors.
On Monday the French president outlined new measures designed to counter the terrorist threat in the wake of the Paris attacks.
French opposition leader and former president Nicolas Sarkozy has strongly criticised François Hollande, claiming he failed to take adequate measures after the jihadist attacks in Paris in January.
The attacks, including an assault on the magazine Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters and a Jewish supermarket, killed 17 people. Several attacks have been foiled since, according to the authorities.
Sarkozy said anti-terrorist measures should have been boosted immediately.