French lawmakers vote to continue airstrikes against Islamic State

French lawmakers vote to continue airstrikes against Islamic State

France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved extending airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq, just short of one week after the beginning of a string of terrorist attacks in the country that left 17 people dead.

One of the perpetrators of the Paris-area attacks, who killed four people at a kosher market and a policewoman, released a video over the weekend pledging allegiance to Islamic State, while two others have been linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based group.

France was among the coalition of countries that joined the United States in conducting airstrikes against Islamic State last year. French law requires a legislative vote on such military operations after four months.

Before the vote, the National Assembly observed a moment of silence to honor the 17 victims, and lawmakers and staff spontaneously sang "The Marseillaise," the French national anthem.

Also prior to the vote, Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivered a rousing speech calling for increased measures to fight terrorism within France.

Promising to enforce the “rule of law,” he called for new surveillance of Muslim radicals in French prisons and for “reinforcing” the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism efforts, asking its chief to create a new security proposal.

But he also cautioned that stepped-up security should not violate the rights of citizens, including Muslims: “France is at war against radical Islam, but France is not at war with Muslims,” he said.

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