Jihadists urge French Muslims to join the fight

Three French jihadist fighters have called on Muslims in France to join their ranks in Syria, in a video clip released this week, which also sees them burning their French passports.

The clip, which is filmed in French and appeared online on Wednesday, shows the three Isis fighters believed to be from France, armed with Kalashnikovs issuing a rallying call to fellow Muslims backhome.

It will no doubt be a concern to French authorities who are desperate to stop the flow of French nationals to Syria and Iraq, which has topped 1,000.

In the video one of the men suggests Muslims should carry out attacks on French soil “so the simple act of going shopping becomes terrifying”.

Then the three men are shown burning their passports, with the clip showing at least two French passports and a driving license in flames.

The new video explicitly calls for retaliation against France for launching air strikes against the Islamic State group, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.

French prosecutors opened an investigation into the latest video on Thursday and intelligence sources told AFP they were working to identify the three Frenchmen, including with the use of facial recognition software.

The video comes after two French nationals were identified in a brutal video showing the mass beheading of Syrian soldiers.

On Wednesday French PM Manuel Valls revealed that the government believed almost 50 French nationals had died fighting in Syria.

Around 1,100 French citizens are believed to be currently fighting in either Syria or Iraq.

The French government has passed a stringent anti-terror bill in recent weeks aimed at preventing would-be jihadists from travelling to the Middle East.

As a proportion of their populations, Belgium and Denmark are the biggest contributors to the jihad in Iraq and Syria, although France – which has Europe's largest Muslim population – has sent the largest overall contingent.

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French families sue government over children of jihadists stuck in Syria

The families of several children and wives of French jihadist fighters in Syria have filed lawsuits against France's top diplomat over his refusal to let them come to France.

French families sue government over children of jihadists stuck in Syria
Two detained French women who fled the Islamic State group's last pocket in Syria sit with their children . AFP

The suits, filed in July and September, accuse Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of “failing to provide aid” to people in “danger” at camps operated by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria.

The complaints were filed with the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which hears cases over alleged misconduct by former or serving ministers.

It is the latest legal challenge to France's longstanding opposition to allowing the children and wives of suspected jihadists in Syria or Iraq to return home.

The government, which says it considers requests on a case-by-case basis only, has brought back just 17 children since March, many of them orphans.

Critics say the policy exposes innocent victims of the war, many of whom have suffered serious trauma during the fighting and coalition bombardments, to long-term psychological risks.

“The policy of 'case by case' keeps more than 200 children and their mothers exposed to inhumane and degrading treatment, and at risk of death,” the lawyers said

They note that Kurdish officials are also pressing European governments to repatriate citizens who went to fight for the Islamic State group in Syria, as well as their family members.

“It's a political choice not to save these children and mothers being held arbitrarily,” one of the lawyers, Marie Dose, told AFP.

Asked about the lawsuit, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said in a statement that France remained “fully mobilised so that each situation is handled with the children's interests in mind.”

“Our priority is to ensure the return of the most vulnerable orphan or isolated children,” she added.

A similar lawsuit was filed against France last May at the European Court of Human Rights, by the grandparents of two children stranded with their French jihadist mother in Syria.

The boy and girl, who were born in Syria, are among an estimated 500 children of French citizens who joined the Islamic State's so-called “caliphate” before the jihadists' last Syrian redoubt was overrun in March.