Dutch police arrest Syrian refugee accused of 'Al-Nusra Front war crimes'

Dutch police arrest Syrian refugee accused of 'Al-Nusra Front war crimes'
A Syrian asylum seeker has been arrested on suspected belonging to the Al-Nusra Front.
2 min read
Al-Nusra Front took over parts of Syria [Getty]

Dutch police arrested an asylum seeker accused of committing war crimes while allegedly serving as a commander for the former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old Syrian man, identified only by his nom de guerre "Abu Khuder", was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands, the Dutch federal prosecutor said.

"The man is accused of participating in the armed struggle as a commander or a terrorist Jabhat al-Nusra battalion," the prosecutor said in a statement.

He was held "on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria", adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghurabaa Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan).

The man had been living in the Netherlands since 2014 and was granted a temporary asylum permit, according to AFP

Police searched the suspect's house and recovered documents, a computer and a smartphone. He is due to appear in court on Friday and follows information provided by German police, where six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided, it added.

German police "provided witness testimonies against the suspect", the Dutch prosecutor said.

The Al-Nusra Front was allied to Al-Qaeda but renounced ties to the group. Under a new name, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), it now controls much of Idlib province and stands as one of the largest opposition groups.

The Netherlands has been looking at how to deal with citizens who have fought for armed groups in Syria.

At least 315 people left the Netherlands since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011 to join jihadist groups, according to Dutch media reports quoting official figures.

Around 85 have been killed in the fighting and 55 have returned.

In March, the Dutch husband of a British-born teenager who fled to join the Islamic State group said he wanted her to live with him in the Netherlands along with their child.