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More French jihadists killed in Syria as Baghouz assault continues

Dorothée Maquere, the wife of French jihadiste Jean-Michel Clain, in Syria, 5 March 2019
Dorothée Maquere, the wife of French jihadiste Jean-Michel Clain, in Syria, 5 March 2019 Delil Souleiman/AFP

The wife of a French man who joined the Islamic State armed group says her husband, Jean-Michel Clain, died over the weekend in Baghouz, Syria, in a mortar strike. Dorothee Maquere said Clain had been wounded in an earlier airstrike that killed his brother, Fabien Clain, France’s most wanted jihadist.

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Maquere also said Hayat Boumeddiene, another French woman, was killed in a separate airstrike last week that allegedly hit a safe house in Baghouz, known as the "French House," where many French nationals were staying.

Boumeddiene had been wanted by French police as an accomplice in the January 2015 attacks in Paris. She was the widow of Amedy Coulibaly, the man who attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris after two other attackers gunned down staff at the weekly Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

Her death has not been confirmed by any official source.

Jihadist brothers dead

Maquere told RFI that her husband had been seriously wounded in a drone strike on Baghouz on 20 February, which killed his brother, Fabien.

The two brothers who grew up in Toulouse, converted to Islam, and joined the Islamic State together. Fabien became the group’s voice in France. His voice was on a recording claiming the IS was behind for the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Jean-Michel Clain was not as renowned as his brother, and was mostly known as a singer of chants heard on some IS videos.

Maquere, 38, was one of hundreds of people who have left Baghouz over the past two days. Baghouz is the last village held by the IS, and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have stepped up its assault to defeat the group.

Last week the assault was slowed to allow thousands of civilians, including IS family members, to be evacuated. As many as 10,000 people left, and the SDF has been screening them in reception area in the desert.

Maquere is being held in the screening area with her five children, including a two-week-old baby. She said two sons had been killed in Syria, and that she does not want to return to France.

(with wires)

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