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AP Photo, File

The flow of Europeans joining Islamic State 'isn't drying up'

The EU counter-terrorism chief has said the number has swelled from 2,000 to 3,000 in just months.

THE NUMBER OF Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has surged to about 3,000 from 2,000 only months ago, the EU counter-terrorism chief has said.

In an exclusive interview with AFP, Gilles de Kerchove said the flow of Europeans may have been boosted by the Islamic State militant group’s declaration in June of a caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq.

“My own assessment is that we’re about 3,000,” he said when asked how many European fighters have flocked to the Islamist cause in Syria and Iraq.

De Kerchove added:

The flow has not been dried up and therefore possibly the proclamation of the caliphate has had some impact.

His comments came hours after the United States and its Arab allies unleashed deadly strikes from land and sea on jihadists in Syria, opening a new front in the battle against the Islamic State group.

The European fighters, he said, come mainly from France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark but a few come from Spain, Italy, Ireland and now Austria.

“Even a country like Austria I think has now foreign fighters, which I was not aware of before,” he added.

The EU counter-terrorism coordinator nonetheless said he would check his figures with those of European security service chiefs in the next couple of weeks, saying their numbers may be more conservative.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: A little-known terror group was ‘on verge of major attack’ on the US >

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