France - Syria

French jihadist linked to 2015 Paris attacks 'killed in Syria'

French jihadist Fabien Clain was killed Wednesday in a coalition air strike on an Islamic State group holdout in Syria, French news site France Info reported on Thursday.

FRANCE 24 Screengrab | This undated and unlocated image shows French convert to Islam Fabien Clain, identified as the voice in an audio recording claiming responsibility for the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks.

Clain first became known when authorities identified his voice in an Islamic State (IS) group video claiming responsibility for the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris.

Clain reads a six-minute statement on the recording while another man, believed to be his brother, offers a rallying cry for Muslims to fight the infidels “without ever capitulating”.

According to French media outlet France Info, Clain's brother Jean-Michel was also gravely wounded in the strike.

“Fabien Clain was killed by an air strike in Baghuz, the last IS group holdout in Syria," France Info reported.

The French government is still waiting for a DNA analysis to confirm Clain’s death. The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group is also verifying if Clain was killed, a French source told Reuters

France's Defence Minister, Florence Parly, tweeted on Thurdsay saying that "Fabien Clain might have been killed during operations against IS's last stronghold".

Both French jihadists were wanted on international arrest warrants over the criminal investigation into the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris.

French authorities estimate that about 100 French jihadists may still be fighting in the Baghuz area in northeast Syria and say dozens of others are being held by Kurdish-led groups in northern Syria.

Clain had been jailed in the past for recruiting militant fighters and is believed by French authorities to have fled to Syria in 2015.

They also believe he played a larger role in the November 13 attacks than simply recording a claim of responsibility.

The November 2015 attacks were the most deadly in France since World War II. Gunmen and suicide bombers killed 129 people and injured more than 350 when a series of restaurants, a stadium and entertainment venues were targeted in the French capital.

Clain converted to Islam in the late 1990s. Like his younger brother, he is believed by French police to have become radicalised in the early 2000s when he lived in the southern city of Toulouse where he frequented radical online networks.

He was involved in the militant recruitment "Artigat cell", French officials have said. Members of that cell were believed to have been mentored by Salafist preacher Olivier Corel, known locally as the "white emir".

France's military and foreign ministry have so far declined to comment on the reports of his death.


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