Britain offers base to France for raids on IS

Paris, Nov 23 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday offered French President Francois Hollande use of a Royal Air Force (RAF) airbase in Cyprus to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“The United Kingdom will do all in its our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat this evil death cult,” Cameron said speaking alongside Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

“I have offered President Hollande the use of RAF Akrotiri for French aircraft engaged in counter-IS operations and additional assistance for air-to-air refuelling,” The Guardian quoted the prime minister as saying.

The decision comes in the wake of the gruesome attacks at six locations across the French capital on November 13 that killed 130 people and injured over 350 others.

As a major anti-terrorism operation continues in Belgium after the Paris attacks, Cameron called for more pan-European measures to tackle such threats.

“In particular, we must do more to tackle the threat of returning foreign fighters. This requires a pan-European effort.

Earlier, Cameron and Hollande visited the Bataclan concert hall, where scores of people were killed in the massacre. The leaders viewed the floral tributes placed outside the music venue, where fans of rock group Eagles Of Death Metal were shot dead.

Meanwhile, Belgian police arrested 16 people on Sunday night but the key suspect Belgian-born French national. Salah Abdeslam, 26, remained at large, a federal prosecutor said.

No arms or explosives were found in 19 raids across Brussels – including in the Molenbeek area from where the Paris attack was planned – and two in Charleroi.

Brussels remained on high alert on Monday over fears of a similar attack by the IS. Schools, universities and the metro system remained closed.

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