Situation of jihadists in northeastern Syria - Q&A - Excerpts from the daily press briefing (31.01.19)

Q : Were a group of French jihadists – 82 in all – transferred to Iraq, as Le Figaro reported on Thursday, citing a source close to the SDF? Are these the fighters who were arrested in recent days along the Syrian-Iraqi border, or prisoners held for several months by the Kurds?

A : As Jean-Yves Le Drian said yesterday, the government has a single imperative, the security of the French.

It is this imperative that led us to fight Daesh militarily, and it is that same imperative that leads us to fight Daesh fighters, regardless of their nationality.

The French government’s position has always been that those who have committed crimes must be tried where they committed them. That is what is happening in Iraq, as the French nationals were tried and sentenced in that country.

In Syria, the situation is more complicated: a portion of the territory is still at war, in the northeast, and the announcement of the American withdrawal may result in the dispersion of these terrorists. We are therefore preparing for all eventualities in the northeast, including the possibility of an expulsion.

Q : With regard to foreign jihadists in northeastern Syria, is there cooperation between France, Tunisia, Belgium and the UK on Europeans in general?

A : We are carrying out all actions, in concert and through international cooperation, necessary to ensure the security of French citizens, which is our absolute priority.