French teen girl stopped 'on way to jihad in Syria'

VILLEFONTAINE, France (AFP) - A 15-year-old French girl was in police custody Sunday after she disappeared from her family home in southern France, suspected of wanting to travel to Syria to join Islamic militants.

Assia Saidi was "found on Saturday night by her parents in a bar, near Marseille station, where she had been working for a few days," a source close to the investigation told AFP.

Investigators discovered a Facebook page under a pseudonym which "unequivocally" showed she was planning "to leave France and wage jihad," according to prosecutors.

"That was the goal," the girl told LCI television, before admitting she had quickly changed her mind.

The case has made waves in France, home to Europe's largest Muslim population, where some 930 citizens or residents, including at least 60 women, are thought to be either actively engaged in extremist fighting in Iraq and Syria or planning to go.

France has taken a leading role in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, participating in US-led air strikes there, although it has not yet taken military action in neighbouring Syria, where the extremists also hold large swathes of territory.

Assia is in police custody for stealing her parents' bank card.

Her mother told BFMTV: "We decided to go to Marseille. We looked for her all day ... she threw herself into our arms. We're so happy. Everyone hugged, cried, laughed." "We so relieved, so happy that she has not gone abroad," the mother said.