Manuel Valls
Manuel VallsReuters

France's prime minister revealed Monday that seven French nationals or residents, including six converts to Islam, had committed suicide attacks in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking in parliament as he defended controversial draft spy laws, Manuel Valls said that of the hundreds of French people who had made their way to Islamic State-held territory, seven had died staging the suicide operations.

"The youngest was not yet 20," he said.

"Is Daesh (ISIS) deliberately sacrificing these types of people as a matter of priority? Do the candidates for suicide attacks have to prove their ideological zeal to vouch for their conversion?" Valls said. "In any case, this illustrates Daesh's formidable ability to indoctrinate."

On Monday, MPs debated whether to allow spies to hoover up data from suspected jihadists.

Valls's comments came a day after French daily Le Figaro published an interview with EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, who said that an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 Europeans were fighting with jihadist groups in Syria.

ISIS declared a "caliphate" in large swaths of territory stretching across the Syria-Iraq border last June. It has committed some of the worst abuses in Syria and Iraq's wars.

AFP contributed to this report.