'Close to 50' French extremists killed in Syria: PM Manuel Valls

Mr Patrice Drugeon shows pictures of his son, David Daoud Drugeon, a French jihadist who was likely killed by a US air strike in Syria on the night between Nov 5 and 6, 2014. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday that "close to 50
Mr Patrice Drugeon shows pictures of his son, David Daoud Drugeon, a French jihadist who was likely killed by a US air strike in Syria on the night between Nov 5 and 6, 2014. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday that "close to 50" French citizens have been killed fighting alongside jihadists in Syria. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEAUVAIS (AFP) - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday that "close to 50" French citizens have been killed fighting alongside jihadists in Syria.

A government source told Agence France-Presse the precise number, as of Monday, was estimated at 49.

"We know the number of French nationals, more than a thousand, who are involved in this phenomenon," Mr Valls said after a security meeting in Beauvais, north of Paris.

"We know the number of French who have died in Syria, close to 50, so we know the dangers and, sadly, we are not surprised to learn that French citizens or residents of France are found at the heart of these cells and taking part in this barbarity," he added.

"This strengthens our determination to fight against terrorism," said Mr Valls.

Two French citizens - Maxime Hauchard and Mickael Dos Santos, both 22 - have been identified as appearing in this weekend's execution video from the Islamic State group.