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Oct 1, 2014

France boosts military response to Islamic State, eyes next phase

PARIS (Reuters) – France is sending more fighter jets and a warship to strike Islamic State militants in Iraq and will discuss with the United States long-term coalition strategy to tackle the insurgency, including in Syria, officials said on Wednesday.

France was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition in air strikes on IS insurgents in Iraq, who have also taken control of large parts of neighboring Syria during the course of the three-year-old civil war there.

Sep 30, 2014

Syrian Kurdish leader fears Kobani massacre if weapons don’t arrive

PARIS (Reuters) – A Syrian Kurdish leader called on Tuesday for Western states to provide weapons to his forces fighting Islamic State in the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani, warning that his fighters were outgunned and risked massacre if help did not arrive soon.

Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has close links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, said that his calls for arms had so far been rebuffed by the United States and European nations, blaming Turkey for obstructing his efforts.

Sep 30, 2014

Amid jihadi gains, priceless Iraqi artefacts hit black market

PARIS (Reuters) – Ancient Iraqi artefacts are appearing on the black market as Islamic State militants use intermediaries to sell priceless treasures to finance their activities after sweeping through the north of the country, Iraqi and Western officials said.

The militants gained some experience of dealing in antiquities after taking control of large parts of Syria, but when they captured the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the Nineveh province in June, they gained access to almost 2,000 of Iraq’s 12,000 registered archaeological sites.

Sep 25, 2014

France strikes Islamic State in Iraq after U.S.-led Syria raids

PARIS/BEIRUT (Reuters) – French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq on Thursday and the United States and its allies stepped up air raids in Syria against Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas of both countries.

France’s strikes were its first since Sept. 19 when Paris joined the United States military action against Islamic State in Iraq and followed the beheading of a French tourist, reported late on Wednesday, in Algeria in retaliation.

Sep 25, 2014

France opens door to possible Syria strikes after tourist killed

PARIS (Reuters) – France on Thursday opened the door to possibly joining air strikes in Syria just hours after an Algerian Islamist group beheaded a French tourist in retaliation for Paris’ military action against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

France has repeatedly ruled out taking part in air action in Syria where Islamic State has its power base. It fears that strikes against militants there would leave a void that only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces could fill, making it difficult for “moderate” rebels to counter the more organized Syrian army.

Sep 24, 2014

Suspected French jihadis surrender to police after security failures

PARIS/TOULOUSE (Reuters) – Three men suspected of joining Islamist militants in Syria gave themselves in to French authorities on Wednesday after a day of high confusion which exposed security shortcomings in France, including poor collaboration with NATO ally Turkey.

Officials wrongly claimed on Tuesday the three French nationals – who include the brother-in-law of a gunman who killed seven people in France in 2012 – had already been arrested before admitting they were still at large.

Sep 23, 2014

Confusion over returning French “jihadis” suspected of Syria links

PARIS, Sept 23 (Reuters) – High confusion surrounded the
fate of three men suspected of joining militants in Syria, after
a plan to detain them on their return to France on Tuesday
collapsed because security forces waited for them at the wrong
airport.

Lawyers for the men, who include the brother-in-law of a
gunman who killed seven people in France in 2012, said on
Tuesday evening they were in France and still free.

Sep 23, 2014

French jihadis linked to 2012 Toulouse gunman arrested after return from Syria

PARIS (Reuters) – Three Frenchmen, including the brother-in-law of a Toulouse-based al Qaeda-inspired gunman who killed seven people in 2012, were arrested on Monday at a Paris airport suspected of having joined Islamic militants in Syria, a French official said.

Around 150 militants who fought with rebel groups in Syria and Iraq have returned to France, requiring “massive” resources for surveillance and other security measures to prevent attacks.

Sep 23, 2014

Algeria hunts for kidnapped Frenchman, Paris says no deals

AIT OUABANE Algeria/PARIS (Reuters) – Algerian military and police set up checkpoints and sent troops into mountains east of Algiers on Tuesday to look for a Frenchman kidnapped by militants who threatened to execute him over France’s intervention in Iraq.

The Caliphate Soldiers, a splinter group linked to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, on Monday published a video claiming responsibility for the abduction and showed a man identifying himself as Herve Gourdel, a tourist from Nice.

Sep 22, 2014

French national taken in Algeria, group claims kidnapping

PARIS/ALGIERS (Reuters) – A French national was kidnapped in eastern Algeria on Sunday, France’s foreign ministry said, and his kidnappers issued a video threatening to kill him if Paris did not halt its intervention in Iraq.

The Caliphate Soldiers, a group linked to Islamic State militants, published a video on the Internet soon after the French ministry’s announcement on Monday, claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and showing a man who identified himself as Herve Gourdel, 55, from Nice in southern France.