French citizens were in Syria IS camp struck by France: ministry

11th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

French citizens were in the training camp for Islamic State jihadists that was hit by French air strikes last week, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

"We targeted a training camp where there were foreign Daesh fighters trained to come and attack us in France," a ministry source said, using another acronym for Islamic State.

"Among them, there were French nationals and French speakers. We were targeting foreign fighters, not French nationals in particular."

French intelligence learned of the presence of the foreign fighters at the camp by questioning jihadists linked to Syria, the source added.

The Journal du Dimanche (JDD) newspaper first reported the presence of "several French citizens" and other francophones among the hundred or so jihadists at the sprawling camp, which lies five kilometres (three miles) southwest of Raqa, the Syrian town widely considered to be IS's centre of power.

The strikes overnight Thursday were the second time that French jets have targeted IS camps.

President Francois Hollande says France is acting in "self-defence" by carrying out air strikes in Syria.

French authorities have stepped up efforts to fight radicalisation since a series of jihadist attacks by gunmen left 17 dead in January in Paris.

France has been named as a priority target by IS militants and several other attacks have been foiled, amid fears that battle-hardened jihadists could return from Iraq or Syria to launch attacks on home soil.

© 2015 AFP

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