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France Seizes Passports Of 6 Allegedly Planning To Join Islamists In Syria

France has seized the passports of six of its citizens who it says were planning to travel to Syria to join Islamist groups fighting in that country's civil war. It's the first time the French government has used a measure that was approved in November to limit the number of French citizens joining Islamist groups in the Middle East.

The BBC quoted Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as saying the six people wanted to join the self-described Islamic State. An unnamed source quoted by Agence France-Presse said they were planning to go to Syria imminently. Their passports and ID cards have been confiscated for six months, the news agency said. The order can be renewed after that period. They can appeal the order in court, the BBC added.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last month that more than 1,000 people in the country have joined — or were planning to join — Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria.

Today's development follows last month's deadly attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdomagazine and a Jewish supermarket. Those attacks were carried out by French citizens who claimed allegiance to Islamist groups.

France isn't the only country that seizes the passports of those citizens wanting to fight in the Middle East. Britain, which has similar laws, has seized the passports of 25 suspected Islamist fighters. In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced new measures that would, among other things, allow the government to revoke the citizenship of Australians with dual nationality who fight alongside militants.

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Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.