In numbers: French jihadist fighters and their families in Iraq and Syria

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France’s top anti-terrorism prosecutor on Friday released figures relating to French jihadists and their families in Iraq and Syria. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the numbers of French nationals fighting or returning from abroad.


In an interview with French radio broadcaster FranceInfo on Friday, the country’s top counter-terrorism Prosecutor François Molins discussed the French nationals who have left France to wage jihad in Iraq and Syria, including many women and the children being raised in these jihadist families.

Molins warned against having any “naivety” towards the French nationals who may be returning to France from the jihadist zones where Islamist groups are losing ground, saying they are "people who are disappointed, rather than repentant”. Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the returnees would be carefully reviewed on a “case by case” basis. 

  • According to French intelligence services, 690 French nationals are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria
  • Of those, 295 are women
  • Some 28 French jihadist fighters are minors under the age of 15
  • An estimated 400 children have either been born into French jihadist families in Iraq and Syria or have been brought to these countries by their parents
  • A total of 398 French nationals have so far returned from the jihadist hotspots, and all of them have been placed under formal investigation
  • Of those, 260 are currently in pre-trial detention and 138 are under judicial supervision, meaning they must regularly report to the authorities.

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