As details emerge of the terrorism attacks in Paris, experts and world leaders strongly suspect Islamic State is behind the wave of deadly attacks.
The group claimed responsibility for the violence in a statement on Saturday, declaring the wave “the first of the storm”.
They accused France of “striking Muslims in the caliphate with their aircraft” and said the country would remain a target.
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The group also claimed they brought down the Russian passenger plane which crashed in Egypt two weeks ago.
French authorities confirmed more than six sites around the nation’s capital – including an international football match at the Stade de France and a rock concert at the Bataclan theatre – were attacked by eight gunman, more than 120 civilians perishing, although the number of deaths has fluctuated.
Seven of the eight alleged attackers blew themselves up and witnesses said some of their actions during the attacks pointed to them being ISIL inspired.
On Saturday, Belgium opened a terrorism probe linked to the attacks in Paris as police raided a neighbourhood in the capital Brussels and arrested several suspects.
The gunmen who attacked Bataclan theatre shouted “this is for Syria”, according to at least one surviving witness.
According to NDTV, another witness, Pierre Janaszak said: “I clearly heard them [attackers] say ‘It’s the fault of [French President Francois] Hollande’.”
“It’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’. They also spoke about Iraq.”
Jihadist social media accounts have celebrated the attacks using an Arabic hashtag that translates to ‘Caliphate state strikes France’, a possible reference to Islamic State.
Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the attack “appears to have all of the hallmarks of a Daesh exercise by ISIL, but more information will emerge”.
‘Hallmarks of Daesh’
Earlier, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop had said: “We don’t know who has carried out these horrendous attacks on innocent people, but it certainly has all the hallmarks of the terrorist attacks we’ve seen in recent times by [Islamic State], Daesh and similar organisations,” she said.
Extremist accounts on Twitter criticised France’s military operations against Islamic State and rejoiced with Arabic hashtag “#Parisonfire”.
France’s top prosecutor said a search was underway for any possible accomplices and co-conspirators.
The attack came hours after US warplanes were suspected to have killed British terrorist ‘Jihadi John’, a notorious member of Islamic State who beheaded hostages on camera to serve as propaganda.
The past year has been a tumultuous one for France, with around six terrorism attacks thwarted or carried out.
The carnage began in January, with jihadist attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket left 17 dead.
Paris attacks at a glance
Attack sites: 6
Then in June, Yassin Salhi, 35, confessed to beheading his boss during an attack on a gas factory in Lyon.
In August, American servicemen helped subdue a gunmen in an attempted attack on a Thalys train in France, while in July, French authorities foiled a “terrorist” plot to capture and decapitate a member of its armed forces.
US private sector intelligence group Stratfor noted that the attacks came just five days before the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sailed for the Persian Gulf to step up air attacks on Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.
The French government reportedly invited Australia to deploy a warship to this battle group. No decision has yet been announced.
A global security expert from RMIT University, Joseph Siracusa, told ABC that “this is a day like 9/11”.
“We’re dealing with people who have professional training,” Mr Siracusa said. “I assume it’s ISIL until further notice.
“They are taking some credit for it.”
“ISIL has been able to operationalise its sympathisers in other countries. What I mean by that is they’ve been able to send them the message and get them to do things, big things, like this [Paris attacks] as a matter of fact.”
Both NBC and CNN had identified the attacks as being carried out by ISIL.
-with Jackson Stiles, AAP