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EU backs French appeal for military assistance as fight ramps up against 'Islamic State'

The EU has pledged support for France after it requested help abroad in response to the brutal attack in Paris claimed by the "Islamic State." France has engaged in multiple air strikes in Syria since the attack.

EU defense ministers said on Tuesday they supported France's request for military assistance as it intensifies its fight against the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group in the Middle East.

"France cannot act alone in these theaters," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a meeting on Tuesday with fellow defense ministers in Brussels.

The country referenced Article 42 of the EU Treaty, which calls for solidarity among member states in the case of an armed attack on its territory. It is the first time in the EU's history the article has been evoked.

In response, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said all 28 member states backed the request.

"Today, the EU through the voices of all the member states unanimously expressed its strongest full support and readiness to give the assistance needed," she told reporters.

IS claimed responsibility for the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, an act which has led France to

declare itself at war

with the terror group.

Strikes abroad, Searches at home

The same day the defense minister made his appeal, France conducted new air strikes in Syria and searched 128 homes domestically in connection with the Paris attacks.

This latest wave of air strikes - the second since Friday - was once again concentrated in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by IS. An earlier series of strikes destroyed a command post and a training camp belonging to the group, according to a French military official.

The government simultaneously conducted a series of police raids in France, searching 128 homes across the nation. There was no word as to whether or not the searches yielded any arrests.

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the country would inevitably fail to meet its EU budget target as it ramps up its security measures in response to the heightened terrorism threat.

"We have to accept that and Europe has to understand," he said.

blc/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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