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Britain, France to track down ‘jihadists’ travelling to Syria London, Paris tighten defence ties with arms projects

BRIZE NORTON, United Kingdom, Feb 1, (AFP): France and Britain said Friday they would work together tracking down jihadists who travel to Syria to fight with Islamic extremists then pose a security threat when they return home. Joint monitoring will be set up to track their movements, French President Francois Hollande announced following a summit with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

London and Paris are concerned that the three-year conflict in Syria is being exploited by extremist groups to recruit young people in Britain and France to be trained to carry out terror attacks on their return to their home countries. Cameron and Hollande made the announcement following their summit at the Brize Norton airbase in Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency in southern England. “We are also concerned about the threat of terrorism posed to our own countries by this continuing conflict,” Cameron said. “We’ve agreed to work together to tackle the security risk posed by UK and French nationals who travel to Syria for jihadist fighting and then seek to return here.” Hollande has said that 700 people have left France to join the fighting in Syria.

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London estimates that between 200 and 366 British nationals have gone to Syria to participate in the conflict. “The extremist movements, the fundamentalists are playing with the regime, and vice versa,” Hollande said. “In addiction to this, we have young people who live in our respective countries and who are going off, being manipulated and they’re going off into the combat areas. “We are going to set up cooperation in order to avoid these young people being affected by this propaganda and also be able to monitor their comings and going and try to prevent this.” Cameron and Hollande said they remained committed to finding a political solution to the civil war in Syria and urged the international community to increase their humanitarian efforts.

Meanwhile, Britain and France brought their defence cooperation closer on Friday, announcing joint projects to build combat drones and unmanned anti-mine vehicles. Cameron and Hollande struck a series of deals in a one-day summit at the Brize Norton airbase in Oxfordshire, southern England. They also announced joint training exercises and closer logistics operations. “We recognise that if we, Britain and France, do more together, our defence budgets will go further, our armed forces will benefit from better equipment and our defence industries will remain world leaders and we will be able to have a greater global impact,” Cameron said. He announced they would invest £120 million ($200 million, 145 million euros) together in the feasibility phase of an unmanned combat air vehicle. “We will work together to design a new unmanned maritime vehicle to counter seabed mines,” he added. France announced a £500 million agreement for anti-ship missiles to equip helicopters from both countries.

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