PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Tuesday that a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib could scatter thousands of foreign extremists abroad, posing a security threat to the West.
“There are in all likelihood dozens of French fighters from both Al-Qaeda and Daesh (Islamic State)” in Idlib, Le Drian told France’s BFMTV, warning that there were “also many terrorists from other nations who could scatter” in the event of a joint Syrian-Russian offensive, posing “risks for our security.
Le Drian said there was “still time to guard against this scenario” and expressed support for Turkey “in its efforts to keep the population safe, particularly the civilian population”.
France, the European country worst hit by a wave of extremists attacks since 2015, has been on high alert for radicals returning home from areas in Iraq and Syria that have been recaptured from IS.
Le Drian estimated at “between 10,000 and 15,000” the number of extremists left in Idlib.
“The attack being prepared by the Syrian regime with Russia’s backing is extremely dangerous,” he said.