France's defense minister says about 10 former French soldiers are fighting with Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, among the hundreds of French radicals believed to be fighting in the region.

Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed a report on French radio RFI that former French soldiers are in the region, insisting it remains an "extreme rarity."

He spoke Wednesday as the government laid out sweeping new measures and money to counter terrorism after France's deadliest attacks in decades. One of the three gunmen in the Jan. 7-9 attacks on a kosher market and a satirical newspaper claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group. The other two claimed ties to al-Qaida in Yemen.

French authorities say at least 1,200 French citizens and residents are implicated in extremist fighting in Iraq and Syria.