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France

Frenchman confirmed in IS execution video

media A French national is suspected to be among the jihadists seen in the latest IS execution video that claimed the killing of US aid worker Peter Kassig (seen in picture). REUTERS/Kassig Family/Handout

Prosecutors in Paris said that a 22-year-old French national was one of the jihadists in an Islamic State video that appeared to show the beheading of Syrian soldiers and a US aid worker.

The man is believed to be Maxime Hauchard from a small village in Normandy in northern France.

Earlier, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve had told reporters that the Frenchman in the video had "left for Syria in August 2013 after a stay in Mauritania in 2012."

The prosecutor's office said "circumstantial evidence confirms the involvement of a Frenchman in the decapitation of Syrian prisoners shown in an Islamic State video released on Sunday."

An investigation into Hauchard was opened in August by French authorities "for criminal association in relation to a terrorist organisation," a judicial source said.

The video released on Sunday shows the young, bearded man in camouflage fatigues alongside fellow combatants.

Prisoners are lined up on their knees in front of them. The man resembling Hauchard is seen placing a knife to the collar of one of the prisoners. The execution itself is not shown, but the severed head is later seen.

An intelligence source said it was being verified whether a second French citizen was among the jihadists seen in the video.

Around a thousand French are thought to have taken part in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, with around 375 currently there, the government has said. At least 36 have died there.

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