Foreign militants in Syria threaten EU, allies: Ministers warn

Foreign militants in Syria threaten EU, allies: Ministers warn
Fri Dec 6, 2013 08:35:31

The growing number of young Europeans joining al-Qaeda-linked militants in Syria poses a potential threat for the EU and its allies, France and Belgium have warned.

“The phenomenon is particularly worrying,” French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said alongside his Belgian counterpart Joelle Milquet said on Thursday.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 youths have gone to Syria where rebels are fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, they told a joint press conference.

Earlier this year, a report by King’s College London estimated that 600 Europeans might have joined rebel forces in Syria since early 2011.

“For Belgians, it is between 100 and 150,” Milquet said.

“For the French, it is slightly more than 400, of which 184 are currently in Syria,” Valls said, adding that 14 had died, 80 had come back and 100 wanted to leave.

Now the situation has changed, he said; “Most of those going say they want to fight in groups linked to al-Qaeda.”

For the moment, there appears to be no immediate threat but that does not mean, “We can drop our guard because the jihadist groups have grown stronger and our nationals are becoming dangerous,” he said.

France and Belgium are working together on the problem and have held meetings with Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Denmark to coordinate a response.


string(1393) "[{"id":"1540870","sort":"3131945","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/03/alalam_635216903688392494_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Fleeing Syria rebels behind deadly violence in Lebanon"} ,{"id":"1540911","sort":"3131946","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/03/alalam_635216959789043564_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Kurdish women fight al-Qaeda in Syria"} ,{"id":"1540923","sort":"3131947","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/03/alalam_635216985918384114_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Syria calls for UNSC action on Maaloula attack"} ,{"id":"1541207","sort":"3131948","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/04/alalam_635217547721842911_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"In Picture: Syria before & after war"} ,{"id":"1541218","sort":"3131949","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/04/alalam_635217526000590257_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Turkey seeks aid to overcome spillover of Syria terrorists"} ,{"id":"1541253","sort":"3131950","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/04/alalam_635217612403071996_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Saudi criminals join militants fighting in Syria: Envoy"} ,{"id":"1541341","sort":"3131951","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/04/alalam_635217846405167358_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Rockets kill 18 in gov’t-held areas of Syria's Aleppo"} ,{"id":"1541481","sort":"3131952","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/05/alalam_635218316799214663_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Militants mull joining Syria army to fight al-Qaeda"} ]"