France pays tribute to special forces in annual parade

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France pays tribute to special forces in annual parade
The Eiffel Tower is pictured before Bastille Day fireworks in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations late Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.(AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations late Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.(AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations late Monday, July 14, 2015. Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations late Monday, July 14, 2015. Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Fireworks light the skies above the Eiffel Tower in the French capital Paris, on July 14, 2015 as part of France's annual Bastille Day celebrations. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Fireworks light skies above the Eiffel Tower in the French capital Paris, on July 14, 2015 as part of France's annual Bastille Day celebrationsAFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
The Eiffel Tower is enlighted with colors of the French national flag prior to the beginning of the fireworks on July 14, 2015 as part of France's annual Bastille Day celebrations.AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People attend a fireworks display during the traditional Bastille Day celebrations on the Garonne river in Toulouse, southwest France on July, 14 2015. AFP PHOTO/STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Troops of the Barkhane unit take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 14, 2015 from a French Air Force C-135 FR refueling tanker aircraft shows two French Air Force Rafale C fighter jets flying over the countryside, west of Paris, on their way to take part in the aerial Bastille Day military parade over Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT (Photo credit should read FRANCK PENNANT/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 14, 2015 from a French Air Force C-135 FR refueling tanker aircraft shows four French Rafale fighter jets flying over the countryside, west of Paris, on their way to take part in the aerial Bastille Day military parade over Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT (Photo credit should read FRANCK PENNANT/AFP/Getty Images)
Cadets of the Ecole nationale de police de Rouen-Oissel and Saint-Malo (Rouen-Oissel and Saint-Malo's National School of Police) march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Troops of the Pionniers du 1er Regiment Etranger (Pioneers of the first regiment of the Foreign Legion) march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Cavalry of the Republican guard take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Four French Air Force Mirage fighter jets fly over the July Column and its angel statue on the Place de la Bastille during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
A paratrooper lands on the Concorde square after jumping from an helicopter during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Troops of the 1er regiment de hussards parachutistes (parachute regiment) take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A Caesar vehicle of the 40th Artillery Regiment takes part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican troops hold falcons as they march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Alpha Jets of the French Air Force, La Patrouille de France, releasing trails of blue, white and red smoke in the colours of the French national flag fly over the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican troops walk down the Champs Elysees avenue as part of Bastille Day parade during the traditional Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is the guest of honor at this year's event marking France's biggest holiday (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
French tanks of the Tirailleur Battalion drive down the Champs-Elysees avenue during the Bastille Day parade Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Paris, France. France is celebrating Bastille Day with a display of fighter jets and with anti-terrorist forces marching in the yearly parade in Paris for the first time as the country's leadership tries to show its muscle against extremists. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
An Awac and warplanes Mirage 2000 fly over the Champs Elysees avenue during the traditional Bastille Day parade in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. French anti-terrorist forces join the traditional military parade celebrating Bastille Day, as the country's leadership tries to show its muscle against extremists abroad and at home. Mexico's president is the guest of honor at this year's event marking France's biggest holiday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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France paid tribute on Tuesday to the elite armed units which intervened to end sieges after January's deadly attacks by Islamist militants, showcasing the secretive forces for the first time in its annual Bastille Day parade.

Forces including the RAID assault unit marched down the Champs-Elysees avenue, some wearing sunglasses and helmets to hide their identity. Broadcast media were told not to zoom in on the faces of other special forces members.

"This march is more than ever the glue that holds the nation together," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

France is on top security alert after a suspected Islamist beheaded his boss and tried to blow up an industrial gas plant in the suburbs of the southeast city of Lyon last month.

Criminal intent was also suspected in two fires which broke out on Tuesday at a petrochemical facility near Marseilles airport on Tuesday. There was however no indication of a link between the two or any underlying political or religious motive.

Twenty people, including three of the attackers, were killed in January when gunmen targeted the headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and another shot a police officer and took hostages at a kosher supermarket near Paris.

In a television appearance, Hollande said police and army forces would stick to maximum security at least until the end of the year. An extra 10,000 soldiers drafted in to maintain surveillance across France will continue to be deployed, he said, despite regular reports of chronic stress and fatigue.

"We are faced with an enemy, the threat is there ... in 2015, nothing will be eased up."

Tuesday's procession showcased French military equipment, from regular infantry vehicles to Dassault's multi-role fighter Rafale and Airbus' military troops transporter A400M.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Mark John/Ruth Pitchford)

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