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Feb 13, 1:13 PM EST

France charges 6 with recruiting militants to fight in Syria


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PARIS (AP) -- Six men of Chechen origin are facing terrorism charges in France over a suspected recruiting ring sending jihadi fighters to Syria, the Paris prosecutor's office said Friday.

The men, aged 32 to 38, were handed preliminary charges Thursday for alleged preparation of terrorist acts and for terror financing, said a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, which handles terrorism cases for France.

The six were arrested Sunday near the city of Toulouse and the town of Albi in southern France. Four were political refugees in France, one had dual French and Russian nationalities, and another received French citizenship in 2009. All six were ordered held without bail.

French police have conducted several anti-terror operations following last month's terrorist attacks in and near Paris but authorities said the arrests of the six men of Chechen origin were not linked to those attacks.

Hundreds of French citizens are among thousands of Europeans who have travelled to Syria to join extremist groups fighting against President Bashar Assad's forces.

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Nicolas Vaux-Montagny contributed to this report.

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