French family of 11 may have left country to fight alongside jihadists in Syria

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A French family of 11, including a grandmother, is believed to have left the French scenic coast city of Nice to fight alongside jihadists in Syria.

The AFP reported Wednesday that the family is believed to have left the country in September.  The news agency cited a French newspaper, Nice-Matin, that reported about a 27-year-old woman, who converted to Islam and left with two of her sons.

"I was not going to go, but before Allah I could not stand back," she reportedly told a friend.

France estimates that nearly 1,000 of its residents have left for jihad in Syria and Iraq this year, and the Interior Ministry estimates that 350 are still there, with the others either on their way, leaving the battlefields or killed.

France was the first country to join U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State extremists and has increased its monitoring of French people suspected of joining them.

Parliament is debating a bill to provide new tools to fight terrorism, including taking away passports of suspected would-be jihadi fighters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report