France attacks ISIS from aircraft carrier, launches bid to build coalition

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French President François Hollande (File photo)

Brussels, Belgium (CNN) — France launched its first airstrikes from an aircraft carrier against ISIS on Monday (November 23) as French President Francois Hollande prepared to meet with world leaders in an attempt to build an anti-ISIS coalition.

Brussels remained tense amid warnings of a possible terrorist attack. Authorities charged a suspect in connection with the Paris killings, Belgium's Federal Prosecutor Office said Monday, and the nation's prime minister said Brussels will remain at the highest terror level until at least next Monday.

French warplanes took off from the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, which was deployed recently in the eastern Mediterranean, and attacked ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, said the spokesman for the Etat Major des Armées, the French Chief of Defense Staff.

With the addition of those carrier-based aircraft, France now has 38 aircraft carrying out bombing raids against ISIS, CNN correspondent Jim Bittermann said.

France had already been attacking ISIS by air, but not from its carrier, and hit targets in Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq on Monday, the ministry of defense said.

The French President prepared a diplomatic initiative to form a multi-national force to fight ISIS, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks that left 130 dead in Paris.

Hollande will visit Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday (November 24), then meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday (November 25) and travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (November 26).

Hollande met with British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier Monday and they agreed to a pan-European effort for stronger external EU border controls, a more effective way of screening people and greater information sharing, Cameron said.

They also paid their respects to victims of the attacks at the Bataclan concert hall as they visited the site of the deadliest massacre on November 13.

Cameron will make a case for the United Kingdom to start bombing ISIS positions in Syria on Thursday, he said Monday as he presented the country's defense spending review in Parliament.

Russia may be showing signs of warming up to a coalition with France. The Russian Defense Ministry released photos on Monday that showed the words "For Paris" written on Russian missiles that will target ISIS positions.

Report: Third terrorist registered as refugee

The German publication Der Spiegel reported Monday that a third suspect in the Paris attacks may have entered France as a refugee.

According to the publication's online report, investigators recently discovered the third terrorist had been registered as a refugee on the Greek island of Leros. Based on fingerprints and a Serbian passport, the investigators had determined that two men who blew themselves up near the Stade de France had also been registered as refugees there, Der Spiegel said.

Greek police did not confirm a third suspect came through the island of Leros. However, Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Nikolaos Toskas confirmed Monday that two of the Stade de France suicide bombers entered the European Union through Leros on October 3.

In Brussels, fears of a terror attack will keep schools and the metro in Brussels closed until Wednesday at the earliest, Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel announced Monday.

The terror threat level in Brussels will remain at 4, the highest level, and the terror level for the rest of the nation will stay at 3, he said. Those levels will be reassessed in a week, Belgian officials said.

That means oldiers and heavily armed police will remain in force on the streets and people will be urged to avoid large gatherings. The U.S. Embassy announced that its consular section would close Tuesday because of the high threat level.

"We are doing our utmost with our security forces to go back to a normal situation as quickly as possible- that is everyone's intention," Michel said following a meeting of the country's national security council.

Five more people were arrested Sunday night, bringing to 21 the number of people arrested in raids across Brussels and in Charleroi, another Belgian city, said federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt.

Details were not provided about the suspect in the Paris attacks who was arrested. The Belgium Prosecutor's office also said 15 people who were detained have been released

Authorities found no firearms or explosives in the raids, suggesting they hadn't defused the threat that has prompted the government to raise the terrorism alert to its highest level for Brussels.

The operation also didn't uncover Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November 13 attacks on Paris who fled to Belgium in the aftermath and remains on the loose.

CNN security analyst Paul Cruickshank said there's "unprecedented concern" among Belgium authorities.

"The worry is that there's another attack team out there, that they have explosives, that they have weapons," he said Monday morning on CNN's "New Day." "Belgian police don't have a handle on where these guys are and that's why they're shaking the tree so hard."

Brussels link to Paris attacks

The tensions in Brussels highlight the city's strong connection to the Paris attacks, in which ISIS jihadists armed with assault rifles and suicide vests targeted restaurants, a rock concert and a sports stadium.

Several of the men believed to have taken part in the attacks have strong ties to Brussels, notably its suburb of Molenbeek, which has a history of links with terrorism plots.

Abdeslam, who's on the run, and his brother, who blew himself up at a Paris cafe during the deadly rampage, both hailed from Molenbeek. So did Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the attacks, who authorities say was killed in a police raid near Paris on Wednesday.

French authorities have said the Paris attacks were organized in Belgium, with the jihadists taking advantage of intelligence gaps and the absence of border controls between the two countries to slip into France undetected.

Leaders pay respects at site of massacre

Security measures remain tight in France, which has been under a state of emergency since the attacks.

An area in the Paris suburb of Montrouge was sealed off Monday night after the discovery in a garbage can of an article resembling a suicide vest, Paris police told CNN.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the article contained explosives. A bomb disposal team on site removed the article.

Children across the country had their bags searched at the front doors of their schools Monday, while administrators were tasked with verifying the identities of everyone on school grounds, according to the Ministry of National Education website.

Police have carried out about 300 searches in the Paris region since the November 13 attacks and about 800 nationwide, the Paris police prefecture spokesman said. As many as 10,000 police officers and 6,500 soldiers are deployed across the capital and its suburbs, he added.

Did Paris suspect abort part of attack?

Investigators are still trying to establish who did what during the wave of violence across the French capital.

Questions have been raised about whether Abdeslam, 26, might have aborted part of the plan and laid low before calling acquaintances in Brussels to come pick him up.

Another of his brothers, Mohamed, who wasn't involved in the violence, said he believes Salah Abdeslam might have changed his mind at the last minute and decided not to go through with an attack.

"He probably saw or heard something that was not what he was expecting and he decided not to go through with what he wanted to do," Mohamed Abdeslam told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

He reiterated a plea on behalf of his family for his brother to turn himself in.

"We prefer to see Salah in prison than in a cemetery," he said.

Puzzle over bombers' identities

French authorities are also still trying to identify all of the seven attackers who were killed on November 13.

The French National Police posted a picture on its official Twitter account of a man it said was one of the three suicide bombers who detonated their explosive vests outside the Stade de France.

The photo is accompanied by an appeal to the public for information about the man, whom officials do not name.

They are also seeking information on another of the stadium bombers, who was found with a Syrian passport that's believed to be fake or doctored.

In another puzzle, investigators are analyzing the DNA of a third person who was killed during the major police raid Wednesday in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis that targeted Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader.

Authorities have so far identified Abaaoud and his female cousin, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, as two of the dead in the clash with police. The DNA of the third person, who is believed to have detonated a suicide device, doesn't match anyone on police records, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.

CNN's Drew Griffin reported from Brussels and Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Margot Haddad, Max Foster, Tim Lister, David Fitzpatrick, Karen Smith, Stephanie Halasz, Ashley Fantz, Marilia Brocchetto, Ralph Ellis, and Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.

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