Worries mount as more westerners join Syria war

Worries mount as more westerners join Syria war
Sun Jul 28, 2013 09:57:30

Number of radical militants pouring to Syria to fight against the country is on a concerning rise, raising fears among American and European intelligence officials of a new terrorist threat when the fighters return home, a new report suggests.

More Westerners are now fighting in Syria than fought in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or Yemen, according to a report by The New York Times quoting officials.

Most of the Westerners are self-radicalized and are traveling on their own initiative to Turkey, where insurgent facilitators often link them up with specific groups, terrorism experts say.

Many have joined ranks with the Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front, which are designated as a terrorist group by many countries.

“The scale of this is completely different from what we’ve experienced in the past,” Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator, said at the conference in Aspen.

So far, terrorism experts say, there have been no documented terrorist plots linked to European or other Western fighters returning from Syria, but France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, recently called the threat “a ticking time bomb.”

Security services across Europe are stepping up their surveillance efforts and seeking ways to make it more difficult for people suspected of being radicals to travel to Syria.

Concerns about extremist militants among Western government are however accompanied by their full support to the war in Syria.

Washington has remained indifferent about warnings to provide military support to thousands of insurgents who are mostly from terrorist and radical groups, with the CIA training groups of militants in Jordan and sending them in to fight.

The prospects of the bloodshed that has already taken more than 100,000 lives, a toll which is on the rise by the day, got more concerning with the European Union’s controversial decision in May to lift an arms embargo on the so-called opposition while keeping it for the legitimate government of the country.

The war in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following intervention of western and regional states.

Many Syrians who sided with the opposition at start of the protests have now turned to side with the government and the army to defend their country against foreign-backed extremists.


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