A ranking French member of the Islamic State group goes on trial in charges he ran a network to recruit fighters to Syria.

Salim Benghalem, who has featured repeatedly in IS propaganda and is believed to be in Syria, will be tried in absentia along with six in France on allegations of running the network, which the government considers a major source of European fighters.

His wife, who left Syria with their children, has told investigators that he would return to France only to carry out an attack "with a maximum of damage." She has said he believed bombs were not enough, that "a series of killings is recommended." Benghalem, 35, has been linked with Cherif Kouachi, who along with his brother attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.