German magazine Focus cited NATO sources in a report that Paris paid the kidnappers of four French journalists freed earlier this month.
A raft of new measures aimed at preventing the growing number of French nationals joining jihadist movements in Syria was approved at a meeting of the French cabinet on Wednesday. Official estimates are that 700 French citizens and residents have joined jihadist groups engaged in the three-year old civil war against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, some of them teenagers. The issue was highlighted during the release last weekend of four French journalists who had been kidnapped in Syria by an al-Qaeda-linked group, when they said they had identified francophones among their captors. To understand more about just who the French jihadists are, and what motivates them, Mediapart Arab affairs correspondent Pierre Puchot turned to Radio France International journalist David Thomson, who carried out in-depth interviews with 18 of them for his recently-published book Les Français jihadistes.
Foreign minister says 'about 500' French citizens are fighting in Syria with jihadi groups like that which kidnapped recently-released hostages.
Journalist Didier Francois said the four were chained to each other and kept in basements without natural light; ministers deny ransom was paid.
Nicolas Hénin says release of him and three other French journalists was a 'real surprise' and that he is 'filled with joy' but exhausted.
The four, held captive for almost a year, were found by Turkish soldiers on the border with Syria blindfolded and with their hands bound.
Hamza Madhouj says he took daughter, aged two, to Syria to obey obligation for all Muslims not to live in a non-Muslim country and that she is safe.
The pair were brought back to France having gone to Turkey in early January with the intention of joining Islamist fighters in Syria.
The father of one of two 15 year-olds who ran away from their homes in Toulouse to join jihadists in Syria said he was 'brainwashed online'.
French president and King Abdullah discuss crisis in the Lebanon during an official visit that is also aimed at boosting Franco-Saudi trade ties.
The four, aged between 22 and 35, were arrested in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine following an investigation that started in mid-2012.
The kidnapping of Nicolas Henin of Le Point magazine and TV journalist Pierre Torres on June 22 had not previously been made public.
Didier François, a radio reporter, and photographer Edouard Elias were kidnapped near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in June.
Move follows allegation that Rifaat Assad's fortune, including several dozen Paris apartments and luxurious townhouse, is result of abuse of power.
'Stunned' French president François Hollande called off military attack after US president said he was to seek Congress approval.