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Dutch police arrest Syrian accused of war crimes for Assad

May 24, 2022 GMT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch authorities on Tuesday arrested a 34-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker accused of war crimes, marking the first arrest of a person in the Netherlands suspected of committing crimes in support of Syria’s government.

The man, whose name has not been released by the police, has been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes for allegedly violently detaining a civilian in 2013 and turning the person over to Syrian officials, who then tortured that person.

According to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, the man was a member of the Liwa al-Quds, or Jerusalem Brigade, a faction made up mostly of Palestinian fighters.

The suspect moved to the Netherlands in 2020, applied for asylum, and settled in the small southern city of Kerkrade. The Dutch police received a series of tips about his involvement with Liwa al-Quds, which they consider to be a criminal organization.

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The suspect will have his first court appearance Friday.

Liwa al-Quds played a big role in the Syrian government’s offensive in the northern city of Aleppo, which ended in 2016 with the capture of rebel-held neighborhoods. The four years of fighting in Aleppo left many members of the group dead or wounded, and ended in a major victory for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

This is the fifth war crimes case in the Netherlands to stem from the conflict in Syria. Under universal jurisdiction, the Netherlands can prosecute certain crimes even if they were committed abroad. A court in The Hague convicted another Syrian asylum-seeker, Ahmad al-K., last year for war crimes for executing a Syrian Army soldier, an event that was captured on video.

Germany was the first country to convict an official from Assad’s regime. In 2021, a court in Koblenz sentenced Eyad al-Gharib, a former member of Assad’s secret police, to four and a half years in prison for being an accessory to crimes against humanity.

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Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed.