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France concerned as Daesh militants return from Syrian and Iraqi battlefields

Published January 22nd, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Illustrative photo of a French police officer and a soldier on patrol. (AFP/File)
Illustrative photo of a French police officer and a soldier on patrol. (AFP/File)

Top level meetings are being planned by senior government officials over fears the Daesh operatives could unleash more terror in France which is still in a state of emergency.

France is concerned about the return of French extremists fighting for Daesh and Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq with all the security threat they represent.

Director of the French coordination of counter-terrorism unit (UCLAT) Loic Garnier said the number of foreigners who joined Daesh in 2015 reached 30,000, but that number currently dropped to 12,000, including 3000 Europeans.

He stated that 3,000 Europeans, including about 700 French, joined the ranks of the Daesh organization operating in Iraq and Syria.

“According to reports, the number of French in that region is about 700 people, and the number of people killed is around 232,” Garnier said.

Garnier also noted that approximately 200 of the French national Daesh militants have returned home and said that the French police are closely monitoring these individuals – while also noting that tracking them continuously is difficult.

He added that there are still roughly 1,000 people in France who could potentially be willing to join Daesh terror ranks.

The Head of UCLAT highlighted that several hundred women and children are among these French nationals, and expressed concern for the children who are, according to him, growing up without any sense of right or wrong.

French authorities began tracking people on a database in March of 2015 following the Charlie Hebdo attacks and shootings at a kosher market in January of that year that killed 17 people. However that did not prevent the subsequent coordinated attacks in Paris in November of last year which killed 130 or the horrifying slaughter of 86 people at the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice in July.

There have been a total of 21 terror attacks across the country since December 2014 sparking widespread anger and a backlash against French president Francois Hollande.

By Michel Abu Najm

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