French foreign minister Jean-Ives Le Drian on Wednesday travelled for talks with the Iraqi authorities on setting up a judicial framework to allow for the trials of jihadists detained in Syria, where Kurdish captors said they can longer ensure guarding them in face of the Turkish offensive in the north of the country.
France joined Germany in announcing this weekend a suspension of weapons sales to Turkey for as long as Ankara continues with its military invasion of a neighbouring part of northern Syria, a ban which the French defence minister said concerned 'war materials that could be used in the context of this offensive'.
A group of 12 children of deceased French jihadists was flown home on Monday from north-east Syria where they were held by Kurdish forces, the latest step in efforts to resolve the problem posed by the huge numbers of foreign jihadists and their families stranded in Syrian camps after the military defeat of the so-called Islamic State group.
Twelve former residents in France – eleven of them French citizens, one a Tunisian – have now been sentenced to death in Iraq for having been a member of Islamic State. But whatever charges they face, the way in which Iraqi justice is being carried out in relation to the jihadists has raised major concerns, including among many French lawyers. As Mediapart has revealed, the ides of trying these French citizens and residents in Iraq was conceived in Paris where officials want the process to be carried out “without visible involvement by France”. Matthieu Suc reports.
Children, a girl aged five and a two-year-old boy, are in the care of a Kurdish militia in north-eastern Syria, according to family lawyer.
Speaking during a recent debate with local councillors President Emmanuel Macron insisted: “No programme for a return of jihadists has today been drawn up.” Yet, as Mediapart can reveal, officials at the ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice have in fact been working since the autumn of 2018 on plans for the return of French jihadists held by Kurds in Syria. Matthieu Suc reports on the French government's change of heart.
Fabien Clain, 41, aka 'brother Omar', a veteran leading member of the so-called Islamic State group, who claimed its responsibility for the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, has been killed in a coalition air strike in Syria which also wounded his brother Jean-Michel, according to French media reports.
Interior minister reported as saying fighters of French origin could be repatriated from Syria as US forces withdraw from that country.
FDrench President Emmanuel Macron, speaking during a visit to Chad, said he "very deeply' regrets the decision by his US counterpart Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from Syria, commenting that 'An ally should be dependable'.
President Macron apparently spoke to President Trump in advance to try convince him not to remove US troops from Syria.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's security chief and two senior Syrian air force intelligence officials are wanted by France in connection with the disappearance in 2013 of a father and son of joint French-Syrian nationality after they were arrested by agents of the regime.
France plans to start repatriating an estimated 150 children from former IS war zone but says mothers themselves will not be welcomed home.
Following the military rout of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, large numbers of French jihadists were forecast to return home. But in fact, those who have made the journey back represent relatively few of the estimated 700 who joined the ranks of IS in the Middle East. Since 2016, just 64 men and women jihadists have returned – and only seven so far this year. One principal reason is the logistical difficulties for those fleeing the zone and the high fees demanded by people smugglers. But the situation presents a potential security threat in that those who escape by their own means can become invisible to intelligence services. Matthieu Suc reports.
Speaking in parliament, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the Damascus regime of Bashar al-Assa and its ally Russia might be held to account for war crimes over indiscriminate aerial bombing of 'civilian populations and hospitals' in Idlib, the beseiged last major stronghold of active opposition to the regime.