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France extends airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq

A week after Paris attacks, French parliament votes overwhelmingly to renew approval for military action against ISIL

France's lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve extending French airstrikes against the armed group known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The vote came one week after the most deadly attacks on civilians in France in decades. On Jan. 8, Ahmed Coulibaly, a man claiming allegiance to ISIL, killed a policewoman and then took several hostages at a kosher grocery store near Paris. Coulibaly and four hostages were killed during a raid by police. That attack was linked to one conducted on Jan. 7 by Said and Cherif Kouachi, two brothers whom Coulibaly had known for years, who killed 12 people at a newspaper office and claimed that they were affiliated with Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen.

"France is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism," Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the National Assembly to thundering applause ahead of the vote. "France is not at war with a religion. France is not at war with Islam and Muslims."

The vote was 488 to 1. One lawmaker argued not to extend the campaign, saying the situation on the ground was improving and warning that more bombing could invite more extremist violence. 

France joined the United States in conducting airstrikes against ISIL last year after the group took over sections of Iraq and Syria. French law requires a vote on extending such operations after four months. France is not bombing in Syria.

One of the killers last week cited France's military strikes as a motivation for his acts.

Wire services

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