The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency says that some 550 citizens of the country have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
Hans-Georg Maassen told the newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" in an interview published on November 23 that the number of Germans fighting alongside IS militants had risen from 450, the number German officials have previously been using.
Maassen said about 60 of those German citizens were killed in fighting, with at least nine killing themselves in suicide attacks.
Maassen said German authorities believe some 180 jihadists have returned after fighting in Syria and Iraq and since Germany is part of the alliance fighting the Islamic State extremist group, the country is "naturally" a target for the militants.
Earlier this month, Germany conducted a large sweep of alleged Islamists, arresting nine men suspected of supporting militants in Syria and Iraq.