PARIS–French nationals are likely fighting alongside the self-proclaimed jihadist group Islamic State which has captured large swaths of Iraq, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday.
“There are probably some of them in Iraq since the Islamic State, which has recruited these young nationals, takes them to all the areas where fighting is happening,” Mr. Cazeneuve said in an interview with radio station France Info. Nationals from other European countries are in Iraq.
About 900 French nationals are either in Syria or Iraq with jihadist groups or on their way to Syria, Mr. Cazeneuve added.
The dozens of youths traveling to Syria to join Islamist fighters is a concern for governments in many European countries where authorities fear they may lead terror attacks back home. Mehdi Nemmouche, the suspect arrested for a murderous attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May, spent months in Syria a year before the incident.
Islamic State has been persecuting Christians and Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking group that follows a pre-Islamic religion, as a part of its campaign to wrest control of Iraq from the government in Baghdad.
The French government is pushing European Union partners to answer to a call for arms and humanitarian aid to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in northern Iraq. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Tuesday said France supports the delivery of weapons to Kurd militias called Peshmarga.
U.S. President Barack Obama last week authorized airstrikes against jihadist groups in Iraq.
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