France PM:Paris attacks ‘planned from Syria, Many arrested in raids across France

P-2 (576 x 430)PARIS: The deadly attacks across Paris last week that claimed 129 lives were planned and organised from Syria, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday. A total of 23 people have been arrested and dozens of weapons seized in a series of raids on suspected Islamist militants across France, officials say.
“The attack was organised, conceived, and planned from Syria,” CNN quoted Valls as saying in a radio interview.
The prime minister said more than 150 raids were conducted on militant targets in different areas of France earlier in the day.
“We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadi movement… and all those who advocate hate of the republic,” he said.
The crackdown follows multiple attacks on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and a stadium in Paris on Friday, in which 129 people were killed.
A police operation is also under way in Brussels, Belgium, with reports that one suspect was arrested. Shots and explosions have been heard in the district of Molenbeek.
At least nine people have been arrested so far. Five of the detainees were identified over the weekend, and on Monday another two were named by the Paris prosecutor as Ahmad al-Mohammad and Samy Amimour, a BBC report said.
Al-Mohammad is the name on a Syrian passport found with the remains of one of the attackers, though the man’s identity has not yet been verified. The other attackers so far named are all from Europe.
Meanwhile two more Paris attackers were named, along with five already identified. One is confirmed to have entered Greece as a migrant earlier this year.
Investigators are also reported to be focusing on a Belgian of Moroccan descent who is described as the possible mastermind of the attacks.
Abdelhamid Abaoud, 27, lived in the same neighbourhood of Brussels as two of the attackers and is now believed to be based in Syria, where he has risen through the ranks of IS.
Police have named Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam, 26, as a key suspect, and a manhunt is under way. He was reportedly stopped by officers in the wake of the attacks while crossing into Belgium but then let go.
The BBC’s Christian Fraser in Brussels says the Belgian authorities are confident that he is in the Brussels area.
Meanwhile, French aircraft have attacked Raqqa, the stronghold in Syria of the Islamic State group, which has said it carried out the attacks.
IS has issued a statement saying the raid targeted empty locations and that there were no casualties.