Iraq - Syria - Fight against terrorism – Return of French jihadists – Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the Senate (19 Dec. 2019)


The offensive unleashed by Turkey on 9 October 2019 led to an upheaval in the political, security and humanitarian balances in north-east Syria, putting the security interests of France and its partners at stake.

Given this situation, France called for a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh [so-called ISIL] to be held in Washington on 14 November 2019. It secured a reaffirmed commitment by all the Coalition partners to actively continue fighting together against Daesh in Iraq and Syria over the coming months, with the aim of consolidating the results already achieved through the end of the terrorist organization’s territorial hold and of progressing towards its long-term defeat.

At the meeting, France reiterated Turkey’s responsibility to ensure that no member of Daesh previously held in the areas where it intervened can escape justice, and that no person linked to Daesh can freely cross its border to resettle, in Europe or elsewhere.

The Turkish authorities publicly announced numerous arrests of Daesh members following their forces’ intervention and measures taken to step up surveillance of the border the country shares with Syria.

France also reiterated at the meeting its consistent position in favour of the secure, long-term detention of all Daesh fighters – including those French nationals who joined the organization – and their trial as close as possible to the places where those men and women committed their crimes. France’s European partners confirmed that they took the same position.

Our nationals detained or held in recent months by the Syrian Democratic Forces are still being held in north-east Syria, and Turkey has also pledged to respect the bilateral cooperation framework existing with France so that we may organize the supervised returns of the 11 nationals it expelled to France recently under the Cazeneuve protocol. Those people will be prosecuted, in accordance with the law in force, as soon as they arrive on French territory. Minors will receive care tailored to their situation.

The fight against terrorism remains a daily priority for the French authorities, the goal being to guarantee our fellow citizens’ safety and pre-empt any danger of attacks in France spearheaded or inspired by Daesh. This is what France was committed to when it secured from its partners, in Washington on 14 November, a pledge to continue the fight against the terrorist organization and ensure that its members, including Europeans, cannot escape justice.

(Translation courtesy of the French Embassy in London)