Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | French soldiers | deserters | Syria | Iraq

French Commandos, Explosives Experts Desert, Join ISIS

By Melanie Batley   |   Friday, 23 Jan 2015 01:28 PM

The French government has confirmed that a number of French soldiers have deserted the military and joined the ranks of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, The National Post reported.

An estimated 10 ex-soldiers are believed to be fighting on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS), including former paratroopers and French foreign legionnaires.

In addition, among them is an ex-member of France's elite First Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, one of Europe's most experienced special forces units akin to the SAS.

The unnamed serviceman is of North African origin and received commando training in combat shooting and survival techniques, and served in his unit for five years, the Post reported. He later joined a private security company in the Arabian Peninsula where he was radicalized before moving to Syria.

One of the defectors took up the leadership of a group of roughly one dozen French-born Islamists operating in Syria, all of whom received combat training, the Post said.

Other ex-soldiers were explosive experts, the Post said, aged in their 20s and either Muslim converts or radicalized Frenchmen from an "Arab-Muslim" background.

The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Drian, confirmed the reports of ex-French military personnel joining militant fighters in the Middle East but emphasized that it was "extremely rare," the Post reported.

He added that the French armed forces' internal security and protection unit would "reinforce its vigilance and see its means increased," the Post said.

Meanwhile, the French government outlined a series of new anti-terrorism measures following the deadly attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris and the proposals are expected to cost over $600 million.

In addition, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said 2,680 new jobs would be created to fight terrorism by 2018, half of which would be in intelligence, and the government would cancel planned cuts of 7,500 defense jobs, the Post reported.

The French government is also considering creating "cyberpatrols" to track militants and recruitment efforts online, and also launch a website dedicated to combating Islamist indoctrination.

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The French government has confirmed that a number of French soldiers have deserted the military and joined the ranks of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
French soldiers, deserters, Syria, Iraq
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2015-28-23
 

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