Police in Paris
Police in Paris Reuters

French security forces on Monday arrested seven men believed to be planning a terror attack in the country and preparing to travel to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria, sources close to the case told AFP.

The seven were detained by France’s DGSI domestic intelligence agency in the western coastal city of Brest and the surrounding Finistere region.

Some of the men were on the country’s “Fiche S” list of potential security risks because of their links with Islamic extremists, one of the sources said.

Investigations will continue to determine how far the suspects had advanced in their plans for the attack and flight to the Middle East.

France has been hit by a number of attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) in recent years, the biggest one being the attack in November of 2015 in which 129 people were murdered.

More than 250 people have been killed in total in France since the start of 2015, when 12 people were murdered in an attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo attack.

Following the Charlie Hebdo attack, a man linked to ISIS shot and killed a policewoman in a Paris suburb before taking hostages at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket the following day, killing four more people.

In more recent attacks, a police employee who converted to Islam and became radicalized stabbed four colleagues to death in October.

Earlier this month, a 22-year-old radicalized man stabbed one person to death and injured two others in a park in the Paris area.

In recent years, dozens of French citizens left to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq before US-led coalition forces dislodged the insurgents from their “caliphate” last year.

ISIS leaders also urged followers in France to stage attacks on their own, often targeting security forces, and officials have said the threat of further ISIS-inspired attacks remains high.