French judge: Syrian gas attack spurring foreign jihadists

By REUTERS
September 18, 2013 22:45
1 minute read.

PARIS - A poison gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus last month is inspiring foreign militants to go and fight for vengeance in Syria, France's top anti-terrorism judge said on Wednesday, warning of long-term security consequences.

Footage of victims was seen around the world and US officials say more than 1,400 civilians, including hundreds of children, were killed in the August 21 attack that UN investigators said used the sarin nerve agent.

United States, Britain and France have said President Bashar Assad's forces were responsible. Syria and Russia blame the rebels fighting to topple him.

Marc Trevidic, France's most senior examining judge in charge of investigating terrorism, said such images had pushed would-be fighters to join what they saw as jihad, or holy war.

"It's a driving factor," he said on the sidelines of a terrorism conference in Paris. Asked about the impact of the August attack, he said "that has boosted" the numbers of aspiring jihadists.

Trevidic said the presence of French fighters in Syria represented a long-term threat for France when they come back with training, having fought alongside hardened militants.

"If they are not able to set up an Islamic state in Syria, they'll come back disappointed," he added.


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