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PARIS (Reuters) - French-born jihadis fighting for Islamic State in Iraq who get targeted for assassination deserve their fate, France's government spokesman said on Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that French citizens had been killed by Iraqi artillery and ground troops using location coordinates and other intelligence supplied by French special forces during the battle to drive the extremist group from city of Mosul.
About 700 French nationals are fighting in Islamic State ranks in Iraq and Syria. French officials have in the past said their priority was to eradicate them to prevent them from returning to their homeland to carry out attacks.
"I say this to all combatants who join Daesh (IS) and who go abroad to wage war; Waging war means taking risks, and they need to take on board those risks," Government spokesman Christophe Castaner told reporters after being asked whether the new administration was comfortable with targeted killings.
Like Castaner, France's foreign ministry on Tuesday did not deny the story, but said Paris was "carrying out its actions within the respect of international law."
France contributes about 5 percent of air strikes to the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State. It also has artillery units in Iraq and special forces operating in both Iraq and Syria.
The WSJ said Paris has for some time enlisted Iraqi soldiers to hunt and kill French fighters and the aim to some degree is to keep as many as possible from returning to France where several have already launched deadly attacks.
Former President Francois Hollande had previously said that French strikes against Islamist militants irrespective of their nationality was legitimate self-defence.
Hollande was also quoted in a book written by Le Monde reporters last year as saying that he had ordered the French secret service to carry out four executions as part of the fight against Islamist militancy.
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier and John irish; editing by Andrew Callus and Leigh Thomas)