French air strikes in Syria may have killed French jihadists, a source close to Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday, although the defense ministry said the information could not yet be confirmed.
The strikes overnight Thursday to Friday targeted a training camp for Islamic State militants in the conflict-torn country — the second time that French jets have targeted IS camps in Syria.
“The strikes have killed jihadists. There might well be French jihadists among them,” said the source in the delegation of Valls, who is currently visiting Jordan as part of a Middle East tour.
The source said he could not confirm a figure of six French jihadists killed which he said probably came from a Syrian non-governmental organization.
The defense ministry acknowledged Monday that French citizens or French speakers may have been among those killed in the camp, which reportedly lies five kilometers (three miles) southwest of Raqqa, the Syrian town widely considered to be IS’s center of power.
But it added it could not “confirm with accuracy anything related to this bombing.”
“We know that this camp aimed to train fighters to come attack Europe and France,” the ministry told AFP.
On his trip to the Middle East, which has also taken him to Egypt, Valls said France would strike anyone planning attacks on its soil, regardless of nationality.
“Anyone who joins these training camps, anyone who joins Daesh should know that they can now be attacked,” the French premier said on Sunday, using another name for Islamic State.
French authorities have stepped up efforts to fight radicalization since a series of jihadist attacks by gunmen left 17 dead in January in Paris, including four killed at the kosher Hyper Casher convenience store.
France has been named as a priority target by IS militants and several other attacks have been foiled, amid fears that battle-hardened jihadists could return from Iraq or Syria to launch attacks on home soil.
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