French jihadists include 45 teenage girls

France revealed on Monday that 45 teenage French girls are waging jihad in the Middle East as well as a worrying trend that has seen a 203 percent rise in the number of its nationals heading to the region.

French jihadists include 45 teenage girls
France has seen a huge rise in the number of citizens heading to the Middle East. Photo: AFP

The huge number of French nationals leaving to fight Jihad in Syria and Iraq has long been detailed, but on Tuesday the country’s Interior Minister shed a little more light on the origin, ages, and sex of those waging war.

Bernard Cazeneuve said that there were currently 457 French citizens present in Syria and Iraq.

Among those French nationals in the Middle East, 137 are women and 80 are minors, including 45 teenage girls. It follows a senate report in April that revealed half of Europe's jihadists fighting in the Middle East were French nationals.

On Tuesday Cazeneuve revealed the latest numbers as part of a hearing at the country’s parliament lead by the commission looking into surveillance of individuals.

According to information obtained by the government French jihadists mainly come from six regions: Ile de France, which includes Paris, Rhône-Alps, which includes the cities of Lyon and Grenoble, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Languedoc-Rousillon and Midi-Pyrénées in the south west of the country.

The commission also enquired about those jihadists who have since decided to leave Syria and return to France. It is this group whom the French government believes poses the greatest threat of carrying out terrorist attacks along the lines of the Paris shootings in January.

Cazeneuve revealed that 278 French nationals had left Syria, of which 213 have already returned to France and others were returning each week and even on a daily basis.

The minister also said that 320 citizens were currently on their way to the region and that 105 had died in the fighting – eight of whom in various suicide attacks.

Last month the French PM warned that France could be at risk of these kind of suicide attacks being replicated on French soil and pointed that at least six of French nationals who had undertaken the kamikaze raids were recent converts to Islam.

France has seen a 203 percent increase in the number of its nationals implicated in someway in the conflict in the Middle East compared to January 1st 2014, Cazeneuve said.

In all 1,683 French nationals are in some way implicated in the fighting.

The interior minister also said that authorities had blocked 36 illegal websites in recent months, which have in some way promoted jihadism.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris France launched its own shock video campaign aimed at discouraging citizens from taking up the fight.

The video told them “you'll find hell on earth and you'll die alone, far from home”.

#Stopdjihadisme : Ils te disent… par gouvernementFR




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.