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At Paris Memorial, Hollande Vows to Crush 'Army of Fanatics'

by VOA News November 27, 2015

French President Francois Hollande vowed Friday to crush the 'army of fanatics' who carried out this month's deadly terror attacks in Paris, as he presided over a national memorial service for the victims.

The commemoration, held at Paris' Invalides national monument, began with a somber reading of the names and ages of the 130 people who died in the attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.

It has been two weeks since the team of Islamic State militants swept through Paris, setting off their suicide vests and opening fire on innocent victims in several locations, including a crowded concert hall.

'Today the nation as a whole, this living strength, mourns the victims: 130 names, 130 lives taken away, 130 destinies usurped, 130 laughs that we will no longer hear, 130 voices that will never speak again,' Holland said.

The ceremony was also attended by other top French leaders and families of victims, as well as hundreds of those injured in what was France's worst ever terrorist attack.

Neither 'fear nor hatred'

In his speech, Hollande stressed the importance of unity, saying France will 'neither give in to fear nor hatred.' But he also promised to defeat the Islamic State group, which he said was driven by an 'insane cause and is betraying their God.'

The French leader this week completed a whirlwind diplomatic tour in an attempt to build a tougher international force to fight Islamic State, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday in Moscow, Hollande announced he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to exchange intelligence on Islamic State militants and other extremist groups in Syria.

Russia is carrying out a bombing campaign in Syria to protect the government of its ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Separately, a U.S.-led coalition is targeting Islamic State militants.

Military cooperation

Moscow has said it is open to greater military cooperation, but many Western leaders have rejected this proposal, saying they are reluctant to ally themselves with supporters of the Assad government.

The situation was further complicated this week after NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkey border. Putin said the United States knew the flight path of the Russian jet shot down last Tuesday, and should have informed Turkey, its coalition ally.

Turkey said it issued repeated warnings that the plane was in its airspace before shooting it down.

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