In comments to French television, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that his government is concerned by the Syrian military’s offensive in Idlib Province, fearing it would scatter foreign militants across the world, potentially causing serious security concerns for the West.
Le Drian says France believes there are “dozens of French fighters” aligned with al-Qaeda and other factions in Idlib. The assumption is that when the offensive begins, many will flee abroad, potentially returning to France and other EU countries.
This is a familiar concern for the West, as France and other nations expressed similar concerns during the early anti-ISIS offensive, with huge numbers of Western recruits in ISIS. Other groups don’t have near the size of foreign fighters, but there are some.
It is interesting that French officials are using this to argue against the offensive against al-Qaeda-dominated Idlib, when there was little real push against the US-backed offensive against ISIS elsewhere in Syria, even though ISIS had a much larger number of such fighters to be scattered.