French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday that "close to 50" French citizens have been killed fighting alongside jihadists in Syria. A government source told AFP the precise number, as of Monday, was estimated at 49.
"We know the number of French nationals, more than a thousand, who are involved in this phenomenon," Valls said after a security meeting in Beauvais, north of Paris.
"We know the number of French who have died in Syria, close to 50, so we know the dangers and, sadly, we are not surprised to learn that French citizens or residents of France are found at the heart of these cells and taking part in this barbarity," he added.
"This strengthens our determination to fight against terrorism," said Valls.
Two French citizens – Maxime Hauchard and Mickael Dos Santos, both 22 – have been identified as appearing in this weekend's execution video from the Islamic State group (Isis).
Also on Wednesday France's Defence Minister announced that Paris will step up the fight against Isis extremists in Iraq, by deploying six Mirage jets.
France will deploy the fighter jets to Jordan as it steps up attacks against the Islamic State group in Iraq, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.
"French air forces will be reinforced with six Mirages to be stationed in Jordan," Le Drian told parliament.